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Defendant in Civil Rights Case

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  • Defendant in Civil Rights Case

    Good evening. I am currently employed as a Police Officer. I am currently named as a defendant in a Civil Rights lawsuit which stated that I used my powers as a Police Officer (in an off duty capacity) to conspire with another law enforcement organization to have my neighbor arrested for no reason. Because I was in an "off duty" status the State will not represent me in the lawsuit. I acted as a private citizen making a complaint against another individual. The Plantiff was stalking my wife and I and also made false allegations that I was waving a weapon around. I am forced to pay my legal defense out of pocket. My question is, does anyone know of any resources that could help me with legal costs? I have retained an attorney and he is good, but not cheap. I am being sued strictly here because I am a Police Officer and the Plantiff sees a payday. I did what I had to do here by the book, as a private citizen. I am recently married and trying to start a family. This couldn't of happened at a worse time.

  • #2
    Get a loan. Hire an attorney.

    NEVER take action off duty.
    Now go home and get your shine box!

    Comment


    • #3
      I did nothing except make a complaint as an individual.

      Comment


      • #4
        Your wife would be the stalking victim.
        You should have discussed this with your supervisor prior to taking any action.
        Now go home and get your shine box!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
          Get a loan. Hire an attorney.

          NEVER take action off duty.
          No good deed goes unpunished!

          Comment


          • #6
            If you HAD acted as a police officer off-duty, you would be being represented by your agency's legal counsel.

            That said, how does someone calling the police, allegedly constitute a violation of civil rights?

            Comment


            • #7
              More to the story..?
              Now go home and get your shine box!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Citykid33 View Post
                I did nothing except make a complaint as an individual.
                Has to be more to the story. There's no possible way, unless you filed a false report.

                Because I was in an "off duty" status the State will not represent me in the lawsuit.
                Again, there's no possible way unless you acted outside of policy... and every department policy about off-duty action or personal involvement in an incident requires the officer to act just as you say you did.

                When this is over and done, if you're still employed as a peace officer, join FOP or CPPA and enroll in their legal defense plan.
                Last edited by tanksoldier; 10-04-2019, 11:18 AM.
                "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                Comment


                • #9
                  I was off duty but in another police jurisdiction. My job advised me to contact that jurisdiction to handle to the case after they finished their administrative investigation against me. They concluded I did nothing wrong. My job is not on the line at all. I am just getting sued by this individual because I’m a police officer. She believes that I used my power as a police officer to force them to arrest her. As far as my wife making the complaint, I was trying to keep her as far away from this a possible. The state will not cover me because I was in off duty status making a complaint as what they deemed a private citizen. This is the loophole I’m in.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    She believes that I used my power as a police officer to force them to arrest her

                    It doesn't matter what she believes, it matters what the judge believes. If all you've written is true the first thing your lawyer should have done is submit a motion for judgement on the pleadings… essentially a motion saying the plaintiff has no case even if all allegations are true... if that wasn't granted then there's more to the story than you've told us.

                    If she is suing you BECAUSE you are a police officer and BECAUSE of alleged abuse or use of that status, your department should be covering you... on duty, off duty, whatever. If they aren't, there's is more to the story than you are telling us.

                    If you hold peace officer authority 24/7 you are never off duty and your department should be covering you. If they aren't there's more to the story than you're telling us.
                    Last edited by tanksoldier; 10-04-2019, 12:44 PM.
                    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Who else was named in the lawsuit? The arresting agency? The individual arresting officer(s)?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yea, something does not add up.

                        I don’t see how the OP’s agency can not represent him/her in this Fed(?) lawsuit. The OP is specifically listed as a police officer.
                        semper destravit

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The AG says that even though I am mentioned as a Police Officer they still have to go over the facts of the complaint, which says that I was not working at the time. Because I was off duty I’m not covered even though I’m “always on duty”. The other agency and individual officers are all covered under “the color of law”. They were preforming their official duties. I was just a private citizen who was ordered by my agency to not take police action myself and let the other agency handle it, which I did. The public officers law in NYS will only cover me in performance of my official duties. They will not cover me 24/7. I cannot go into too much detail because it’s still going on. I think this is a law that absolutely has to change with all the hatred we’re facing. She’s basically acting like a sovereign citizen in this case. Unfortunately that’s a battle I can’t fight right now. The union has been helping me out which has been great but There’s a limited amount of resources they can contribute.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Welcome to the club. Some things that never seem to be explained in advance include:

                            1. Anybody can sue anyone for anything. All it requires is a set of allegations filed under oath.

                            2. Unless you defend against the complaint you may be held liable by default. No department, municipality, or state likes to pay legal defense costs any more than you do, and in some cases (like yours) they found easy ways out (i.e.: off-duty, outside the scope of your duties, in another jurisdiction, etc). Of course they aren't going to open up the checkbook, no matter how much they love you or want to help.

                            3. You and your wife may file a counter-complaint, perhaps alleging emotional distress related to the alleged stalking, false allegations that may cause damage to your reputation and employment, and certainly for legal defense costs. That may cause your accuser to have second thoughts about proceeding.

                            4. You may wish to discuss these matters with any employment-related group with which you are affiliated (union, benevolent association, state peace officers association, etc). There may be group policies that could intercede on your behalf, and if not the members may wish to organize a defense fund.

                            My second year on the job I was sued for civil rights violations (false arrest, false imprisonment, assault & battery, etc). At the time of the alleged incident I was 380 miles away attending a cousin's wedding. I still spent over 3 years defending the matter.

                            Over twenty years later I found myself defending another civil rights claim prior to and after my retirement. A state prison inmate sued claiming every civil rights violation he could figure out how to spell, hand-written on a "Big Chief" tablet in his prison cell, after pleading guilty to assaulting a peace officer (me) and other offenses while on parole for 2nd degree murder. I still spent 4 years of my life going back and forth to lawyers' offices and courthouses before it was over.

                            In between I filed counter-claims in two civil cases, and in both I was awarded judgements. Never collected a nickel, but I kept refiling the judgements for years so that the bozos would never be able to mortgage a house or purchase a car.

                            A part of the life that is seldom discussed in detail. Again, anyone can sue anybody for anything, anytime they want, and it is up to the accused to defend or surrender by default. FIGHT IT!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Have your attorney go back and look carefully not only at your state law requiring your department to defend you against law suits brought against you for acts performed in your official capacity, but for case law outlining what happens when they fail to do so.

                              The appropriate step for you urgency would have been to provide representation to go to court, demonstrate that you were not acting in your official capacity and as such, are not subject to a civil rights suit, (for which they too could be liable) and ask that the suit be dismissed.

                              In most states when the employing agency refuses representation, they become obliged to pay for the employee's defense and the employee's attorney sues them to reimbursement.

                              In the mean time, look to your homeowner's or renter's insurance. They usually provide $100k of personal liability insurance. While coverage traditionally excludes work related incidents, competent legal counsel (department attorneys) have declared this to not be work related, so your insurer should not be able to fall back on that excuse not to cover you.
                              Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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