Last month, a man says police officers used excessive force and seriously injured him while they were investigating gunshot reports on the north side of Minneapolis.
Shawn Davis is a 22-year-old Minneapolis resident who alleges that law enforcement tackled him, kneed him, and punched him in the face when they suspected he had been involved in the shooting. After Davis was arrested, police couldn’t find any evidence that he had taken part in the shooting. So they are now conducting an internal investigation into whether the officers on the scene were justified to force their way into the home where Davis was found and whether they used excessive force.
Unfortunately, this story is all too common in the United States these days, with numerous high-profile cases of excessive use of force by law enforcement. Eric Garner in New York. Michael Brown in Ferguson. Walter Scott in South Carolina. Freddie Gray in Baltimore. And the list goes on and on.
What’s even more alarming is that police officers are using excessive force – often killing their victims – and they’re getting away with it. Many officers not only aren’t charged with crimes, but are able to continue wearing their badge. The exception to this rule so far is Baltimore, where six police officers were charged with different offenses in the death of Freddie Gray.
Excessive Force in Minnesota
In Minnesota, statute 609.06 discusses authorized use of force. A police officer can use authorized force only under certain circumstances, such as when an officer is:
- Conducting a lawful arrest
- Executing a legal process
- Enforcing an order of the court
- Executing any other duty imposed upon the public officer by law
The law, however, doesn’t specify what constitutes “authorized force.”
Minnesota statute 609.066 discusses authorized use of deadly force by peace officers.
The definition of “deadly force”:
“Force which the actor uses with the purpose of causing, or which the actor should reasonably know creates a substantial risk of causing, death or great bodily harm. The intentional discharge of a firearm…in the direction of another person, or at a vehicle in which another person is believed to be, constitutes deadly force.”
Basically, it says that deadly force is when a police officer (or anyone) uses force and wants to cause death or serious bodily harm, or knows there’s a high probability of causing death or serious bodily harm. Deadly force also happens when someone knowingly shoots a gun at another person or at someone in a vehicle.
It is justified only when necessary and to:
- Protect the police officer or someone else from death or great bodily harm
- Arrest, capture, or prevent the escape of a person whom the officer knows or believes has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force
- Arrest, capture, or prevent the escape of a person whom the officer knows or believes has committed or attempted to commit a felony if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm if the person’s apprehension is delayed
In short, if a police officer fears for his life or believes that a suspect is a threat if they aren’t caught, then they are authorized to use deadly force. Even if the supposed suspect didn’t do anything.
That’s why, if you are cornered by the cops, the best thing for you to do is to simply surrender and don’t resist. Regardless of whether you’re innocent or guilty of a crime. If you are arrested though, and feel you are the victim of excessive force by a police officer, contact an experienced Minnesota excessive force attorney with a proven track record of success to fight for your rights.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).