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Polinske & Associates, P.C.

When you are injured by a police officer and you believe the force used to be excessive you may pursue a civil claim against that officer (and his employing municipality) under the Civil Rights Act of 1964

You are stopped for a simple traffic stop.  The tension exhibited by the office escalates to a point where force is used.  He may pull a gun, strike you with a baton, Taser you, or use hands on techniques.  If you suffer serious harm from his actions, and can prove he acted in an "excessive" manner, you may be eligible to pursue a civil rights claim. 

I am currently involved in a case wherein my client, a passenger in a car, was shot five times - while his hands were raised above his head.  The car he was in lunged forward striking one officer in the leg.  The officer that was struck and another FBI agent opened fire on the car.  Their intents were to stop the driver from moving forward and to incapacitate my client as one claimed he was reaching for a firearm.  No firearm was ever displayed by my client.  

I was retained and filed suit against the Illinois State Police officer and the FBI officer.   The Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows filing of such lawsuits against the Illinois State Police officer.  We filed what is called a "Bivens" claim against the FBI officer.  Both essentially allow such lawsuit where excessive force has been used.  Both officers are claiming "qualified immunity (aka good faith) defense bars the lawsuits against them.  Frequently officers will file either a motion to dismiss or for summary judgmentj based on qualified immunity.  The counter to such defense is to prove that either statutory or case law precedent has outlined a similar fact pattern that makes it known to the officer that his actions are prohibited.  If the officer wins his motion the case is dismissed.  

In another case recently settled, my client was strip searched by a Sheriffs Department after being arrested for an alcohol based DUI.  He was compliant throughout the process and declined a breathalyzer request at the jail.  Immediately thereafter he was subjected to a strip search.  He had done nothing to justify such a search.  Strip searches are prohibited by both Illinois Statute and the Supreme Court.  We filed a federal lawsuit.  The Defendant County agreed to pay a substantial amount to settle the case before jury trial.

If your case survives the motions, a plaintiff can request special (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, etc.) and punitive (penalty) damages against the officer for his/her actions.  Most importantly in terms of obtaining counsel to represent you in this type of claim is the fact that attorney's fees are awarded to prevailing parties.  Attorney's fees can oftentimes escalate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in prosecuting this type of civil action.  Mainly due to the enormous amount of time required to be successful in them.  This fact alone is a motivation for the defendants to settle such claims.  


If you believe you have been subjected to excessive force by an officer without justification contact a qualified attorney for a consultation.

Brian L. Polinske
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