Excessive force comes about when an officer uses an amount of force inappropriate for the situation at hand. For example, a police officer may put his hand on the arm of an otherwise cooperative perpetrator, to guide the direction the two are to walk. In the same situation using the business end of the baton instead to prod the individual by sticking him in the back to direct him is an example of excessive force.
Increasingly over the past few years complaints of excessive force have been on the rise. The claims range from abusive language, misuse of batons, use of chemical sprays, non supervised field interrogations, tight handcuffing, choke holds, kicks, inappropriate uses of electro-chock devices, and finally- unnecessary use of deadly force. Although an alternative method of force may be advisable, "the Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to use the minimum amount of force necessary". See, e.g., Bryan v. McPherson, __ F.3d ___, (9th Cir. Dec. 28, 2009).
Examples of Improper Non-Deadly Police Force
1. A 22-year-old was working as a chaperone at a boys and girls club when police were called to break up an unruly crowd. Despite wearing his red T-shirt and an ID badge that showed he was staff, the chaperone was singled out by an officer that knocked him to the ground. The force used was deemed excessive.
2. At a restaurant, four police officers arrived to find two employees taking a break outside the restaurant where they worked. Questioning led to an argument with one of the police officers who grabbed one of the employees and repeatedly struck him in the head with a baton, ordered him to get on the ground, handcuffed him, and kicked him in the ribs once handcuffed. The force used was deemed excessive.
3. During the investigation of a home care worker for criminal conduct at a mental health facility, three officers arrived to make the arrest. Their use of a choke hold and bent wrist lock to make the arrest was alleged to have been improper. The force was deemed excessive.
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