What police actions constitute excessive force in West Virginia?

What police actions constitute excessive force in West Virginia?

Oct 25, 2021 | Criminal Law


Police officers have a difficult job. They should protect and serve the community, but they often find themselves dealing with unpredictable situations. While much of their job involves patrolling and talking to people, sometimes police officers have to intervene in a criminal act in progress or pursue someone accused of a crime.

When that occurs, police officers may have to use physical force to perform their job responsibilities. Some officers go too far and can leave someone with lasting injuries. In the most tragic of scenarios, an officer could even take someone’s life.

According to an academic analysis of public records, Charleston scores poorly for police accountability, police violence and the approach to law enforcement. There are also concerns about police funding, much of which come from fines and asset forfeiture. How do you know if something a police officer did when interacting with you constitutes excessive force? 

Establishing the right level of force requires careful consideration

Police officers should carefully analyze this scenario to determine how much force is appropriate before they get physical with someone.

If the individual is being difficult during a speeding-related traffic stop, violence may not be appropriate or necessary. On the other hand, when pursuing an armed assailant who has already harmed another person, an officer may feel that lethal force is necessary to protect the public.

The accusations or alleged offense influence the amount of force that is appropriate, as does the level of threat an officer can claim a suspect represents. Generally, police officers should try to resolve situations using the least amount of force possible. Unfortunately, sometimes they reach for their firearms instead of a less-lethal alternative, possibly with tragic consequences. 

A firearm is not the only source of excessive force

A police officer does not have to open fire on a subject of further actions to constitute excessive force.

Using a taser on someone who was not resisting could also be excessive, as could becoming physically violent with someone complying with all requests. An officer doesn’t need to use a weapon at all for their behavior to constitute excessive force, as physical restraints or bodily violence can be enough to do lasting injury to an individual.

Reviewing the records of an incident that led to police violence could help you determine if the situation violated your civil rights.