Can You Sue the Police? A Look at the Biggest Lawsuits in LAPD History


Is it possible for civilians to sue the police? YES, it is. In fact, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) faced the largest lawsuit filed against it for injuries, constitutional violations, and excessive use of force in 2020. In situations such as this, it is important to hold police officers accountable for their shameful behavior. The death of George Floyd started a prominent movement for police reform.

The Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Black Lives Matter Movement, and Los Angeles Community Action Network filed a civil suit against the LAPD, detailing over 3,000 cases of police abuse. 

The lawsuit covered events that happened during the May to June 2020 protests. These protests were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the demise of other Black men and women due to police misconduct and violence.

Police Brutality: Severity of the Injuries

According to LAPD news reports, the majority of the protesters suffered severe head and torso injuries because of the attempt by the police to disperse the crowd by striking them with batons and shooting with rubber projectiles.

The LAPD Protocol actually allows officers to use batons to push large crowds and disperse them. Moreover, they are allowed to strike someone if they present danger. Presenting a “danger” in this context is purely subjective, giving a police officer the right to decide whether or not someone is a threat. Clearly, in that particular moment, police officers made decisions clouded with an unjust judgment toward the people on the streets who were only practicing their right to freedom of speech by fighting for equal rights.

Filing the LAPD Lawsuit

Civil rights lawyer Carol Sobel, the personal injury attorney who also represented some of the protesters, told the media that the injuries suffered by the protesters were not only severe but deadly. Furthermore, a protest does not warrant an arrest but only a court order. None of the protesters deserved to be arrested and harassed. That being said, the eventual decision to sue the police was not without basis.

A good case in point is the one involving protestor Abigail Rodas in Fairfax. When she and a friend tried to leave the scene, police officers began to shoot them with sponge projectiles. Rodas was shot in the face, lost consciousness, and was driven to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was diagnosed with a severe fracture to her right mandible and was immediately rushed into surgery.

Recovery was a very painful process for Rodas. She could not talk for ten days and had to be on a soft-food diet. Even after trying to heal for three weeks, she still had screws in her gums and rubber bands to immobilize her jaw while the bones rejoined. 

She was not just injured and in poor health, but because her physical injury prevented her from socializing and going to work, she also had very low morale. Filing a civil rights lawsuit was the only way for Rodas to claim both economic and punitive damages.

Can You Sue the Police for Sexual Assault?

Another case that attracted the media’s attention was that of Laura Montilla, a victim of police misconduct. Montilla filed a sexual assault claim against Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva and other unidentified officers.

In her claim, Montilla stated that different LAPD officers groped her breasts and vagina during her wrongful arrest. Without naming any more names, she also stated that the zip ties they used to handcuff her were so tight that she eventually lost sensitivity in her right hand and that the lacerations and bruises in her wrists did not heal for many days.

Montilla expressed that during her arrest she was loaded onto a bus with people who were panicking and screaming in the dark. The police reportedly never explained where they were being taken and why they were being subjected to blaring heavy metal music.

Harassed victims, including Montilla, had also accused the LAPD of exposing them to SARS-CoV-2 not only by overcrowding the detainees in buses but also because the officers themselves were not required to use masks during operations.

The Other Side of the Story

In their defense, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that the officers too were victims of civilian brutality and that they were “subjected to countless beatings and witnessed acts of vandalism, fires, and looting.” 

Moore claimed that he was obligated to give orders to disperse protesters and enforce curfews at various locations because things had gotten out of control, endangering people’s lives. He added that dozens of their officers also got injured during the protests, and one of them even ended up with a fractured skull.

Can You Sue the Police For Unjust Treatment?

Following news stories about the police’s involvement in violence and abuse cases is beneficial to have a good grasp of civil rights laws. If you have become a victim of police brutality, unfair treatment, emotional injury, or unreasonable police conduct, know that suing the police department or an individual police officer are options that you can take.

If you or anyone you know ends up in harm’s way, even in wrongful death, in any event where law enforcement officers abuse their power, bring your case to court as soon as possible. Because you are dealing with a government agent, you will only have six months to file charges.

Can you sue the police? YES. Farahi Law Firm‘s personal injury lawyers are ready to help you get compensation for your injuries, damages, and medical expenses, more so if from the hands of the police. 

Our personal injury lawyers are ready to offer the legal advice you need and help guide you with your case. Contact us for a free consultation or call (844) 824-2955 for your free case consultation. We have a no-fee guarantee and will not charge you anything unless we win. We speak Spanish and English. 

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