Considering Filing a Claim Against Law Enforcement?
Five things to keep in mind.
1. Preserve all video tied to the incident.
You can search the internet today and find countless videos depicting law enforcement officers’ excessive use of force on the public. In cases where police brutality is captured on video, the footage oftentimes becomes the single greatest tool to ensure accountability.
Still, an officer’s body camera is only one vantage point. It is not uncommon for bystanders to escalating or potentially problematic interactions with law enforcement to pull their smartphones out and begin recording. These videos are posted on social media but may quickly disappear. Take steps to save the videos when you can or ask the owners of the footage to safeguard it for future use.
2. Make an official request for additional information.
Additional information can be requested from the law enforcement agency responsible for the officer’s conduct. Those items can be collected through the Georgia Open Records Act and oftentimes include the following:
Arrest or incident reports
Body camera footage
Dash camera footage
Municipal, county, or state insurance policy information
Law enforcement handbooks or manuals
Memoranda reflecting department policy
If you believe you have been a victim of government overreach, it is crucial that you immediately begin collecting as much information as possible. Evidence disappears and witnesses forget – preservation is key.
3. Send notice that you intend to file a claim.
Once information tied to the incident is collected, it is crucial that you provide the correct parties with an “Ante Litem Notice.” This is usually provided in the form of a letter and is a statutory requirement that notifies municipal, county, or state government of your intention to pursue a lawsuit.
Depending on the organization or department responsible for the misconduct, varying time
restraints exist on how long you have to provide that notice.
At a minimum, the notice needs to provide the name of the department or entity you intend to
sue, the acts or omissions that give rise to your claim, the time and place of the incident out of which the misconduct stems from, the nature of the loss, and the amount of the loss.
These notices have technical requirements and the advice of counsel is recommended.
4. Remember a statute of limitations exists.
On top of the requirement that you provide the municipal, county, or state government with
notice of your intention to file a claim, you need to keep in mind that time limitations exist on how long you have to file the lawsuit itself.
Most claims brought against law enforcement have state and federal causes of action, but
the statute of limitations in Georgia for claims such as false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and most injuries is a two-year statute of limitations.
If you are facing criminal charges, this time period to file a claim may not accrue until
the charges are favorably resolved. Still, seek the advice of counsel as to the specifics of
your case and any questions on approaching statutes of limitations.
5. Talk to an attorney about your case.
As soon as you’re ready to discuss your claims with your legal representation, please contact WBW at (229) 226-2161 or by visiting WBWAttorney.com.