National unrest raises questions about police misconduct

Protests over the death of Texas native George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis have roiled cities across the nation. As some of the protests have turned violent, many cities have imposed curfews enforced by their police agencies.

The unrest has resulted in scores of confrontations between citizens and police officers in cities across the nation, including here in Texas. Many observers expect that after order has been restored, there will be a spate of civil rights lawsuits alleging police misconduct, especially the use of excessive force.

Even in an atmosphere of some degree of national anger towards police officers, plaintiffs in those suits will find some significant hurdles to overcome in our legal system. For instance, law enforcement agencies have what is known as qualified immunity; a type of legal shield that enables police officers (and sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers) to perform their difficult jobs without being sued over every confrontation.

The most notable exception to qualified immunity is when a police officer violates a person’s clearly established constitutional rights.

Texas police misconduct can include cases in which an officer uses excessive force, which is a degree of force deemed unreasonable given the circumstances.

Law enforcement misconduct can also include the arrest or detainment of a person without lawful justification. It also includes situations in which an officer hides exculpatory evidence that would show a suspect is not guilty of a crime.

Of course, police misconduct also includes cases of sexual assault and other kinds of criminal activities.

However, there are statute of limitations deadlines for these types of claims. If a plaintiff misses a deadline, it can mean that their claim is then barred.

Government entities with questions about allegations of misconduct, as well as liability, defenses and related matters should reach out to a law firm experienced in Texas municipal law representation.