Have Legal Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
the officer used a harsh tone when addressing me, was forceful when applying handcuffs, and was forced to sit in the back of the car in cuffs until the officers had spoken with my friend and issued a field sobriety test to him, despite needing to use the restroom which resulted in the soiling of my pants, which was humiliating, and myself crying.
Did the officer ever say you are under arrest? Were you transported anywhere or were you released at the scene? I am sorry to ask this last question, but it matters.... had you been drinking?
I was released on the scene by a different officer than the one who had originally placed me in handscuffs, despite the original officer arguing with him to "take me in".
I am not sure if I was told I was under arrest or not, but was not read miranda rights or anything, and no I had not been drinking.
Thank you for the responses.
You have a potential lawsuit here that could involve several claims that range from false imprisonment, false arrest, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a violation of your civil rights. These lawsuits could pose liability upon the officer personally and if you can show sufficient fault on the department you may even be able to pierce governmental immunity and sue the city.
Before you get to the hyper technical legal details of a lawsuit, you need to take the video to a local civil attorney and let them review it. Preferably you want a lawyer with experience in civil rights litigation and/or false arrest and malicious prosecution. These are complicated matters when attempted against the government and experience helps. If the attorney feels your case is worth pursuing then you will probably be able to work out a contingent fee agreement where the attorney fee will come out of the recovery... if any.
So I can tell you there is a potential case here based on what you've said. However, I have not seen the tape and cannot give you a good basis for my opinion except that it is entirely based on your assessment of the video and the officer's conduct. If an independent review of the video shows you acting in an agitated state on the roadside to the point of endangering the safety of the officers who are attempting to investigate a suspected DUI, then your temporary detention would likely be valid and even with a rude officer you would not likely have a good lawsuit. Further, if your conduct rose to the level of Disorderly Conduct then you could have been arrested and their decision to release you would simply be good fortune... not grounds for a lawsuit. Here is the law in Tennessee on Disorderly Conduct...
39-17-305. Disorderly conduct.(a) A person commits an offense who, in a public place and with intent to cause public annoyance or alarm:(1) Engages in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;(2) Refuses to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard or other emergency; or(3) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose.(b) A person also violates this section who makes unreasonable noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities.(c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
So basically you need to take this video and let a couple plaintiff's attorneys look at it. They should immediately give you an assessment of the situation and provide an independent and neutral view of your odds of recovery. Finding a good lawyer is best done by referral (friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc) but if that is not available try www.lawyers.com where you can search by practice area and geographical location. There are even peer review ratings to help you find a lawyer who is well respected in his/her area.
Please reply if I can help further.
It does make a difference that it occurred in the McDonald's parking lot as it makes it a bit more difficult for the police to claim they had to secure you to prevent a traffic accident (assuming you were acting erratically). The officer's microphones being inoperable goes both ways as you could claim they deliberately disengaged them to prevent recording their misconduct.... but you won't have the recording of the misconduct. Most video systems have an indicator on the video that shows when the microphones are engaged.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).