A large and rewarding part of our practice is holding the government accountable when it violates the civil rights of citizens. “Civil rights” can mean different things to different people. To us, it refers to the government overstepping its authority when dealing with citizens. We handle police shootings; police beatings (including wrongful use of tasers); wrongful arrest and search claims; and discrimination in public accommodations.
Madia Represents Victims of Police Brutality
We represent victims of police brutality and excessive force in Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota. Occasionally, we represent clients in other states in collaboration with local counsel.
Most police officers are brave and outstanding public servants who do their jobs with courage and conviction every single day – we owe those officers an enormous debt of gratitude. However, some officers abuse their authority and the trust we place in them by beating someone, macing them, tasing them, shooting them, or even killing them. That’s not right. The law prohibits officers from using excessive force.
Our free society depends on courageous people stepping forward to protect their Constitutional rights. If you were wrongfully arrested, beaten, tased, or maced, you should know that you are protected by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, which includes excessive force. A federal law called 42 U.S.C. 1983 prohibits the violation of constitutional rights by people acting under color of law, such as police officers.
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Madia Represents Police Shooting Victims
If you have a family member that was shot and killed by police officers, first of all, we are so sorry for your loss and that you are in this position. Nothing that the law does or can do can ever come close to taking away your pain.
But please know that you are protected by U.S. Constitution. If your loved one was wrongfully shot by officers, then you have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C 1983, which allows citizens to sue the government for violations of civil rights.
Generally, officers will argue that they are protected by “qualified immunity” for their actions. That means that, in order to recover, plaintiffs need to show more than the officers were just negligent or didn’t do their job properly. Instead, plaintiffs must show that the officers knowingly violated an established constitutional right.
In shooting cases, that generally means demonstrating that the officers knew they were dealing with someone who did not pose a threat to themselves or others, but the officers opened fire anyway. For example, if officers know that a suspect they are dealing with is unarmed, handcuffed, or otherwise doesn’t pose a threat, but the officers shoot the suspect anyway, they will have a very difficult time arguing that their actions are protected by qualified immunity.
Minneapolis Civil Rights Lawyer Near Me 612-349-2729
You May Be Entitled to Damages for Pain and Suffering, Emotional Distress, and Attorney Fees
If you have been the victim of police brutality, you may be entitled to damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, punitive damages, and your attorney fees and costs.
Madia Gets Results in Police Brutality and Police Shooting Cases.
Police Shooting results in $1.5 million settlement.
Mark Henderson was a hostage held at gunpoint in a room at the Woodbury Red Roof Inn on August 30, 2012. He fled the room and approached Woodbury police officers with his hands raised. He complied with their commands to get on the ground. As he lay unarmed in a prone position approximately 10-12 feet in front of them, the officers shouted conflicting and contradictory commands that even they couldn’t hear or understand. Within seconds, they opened fire and killed him.
Henderson’s family brought a lawsuit against the officers and Woodbury in August 2015. The officers argued that the doctrine of qualified immunity protected their actions. The doctrine of qualified immunity basically says that, in order to be liable for their actions, officers need to knowingly violate an established constitutional right – negligence is not enough. They argued that Henderson didn’t comply with their command to show his hands, and while on the ground, he made a “blading” movement toward them that justified his shooting.
In November 2016, Woodbury brought a motion for summary judgment, asking the district court to dismiss the Henderson family’s case because the officers were protected by qualified immunity. In February 2017, the district court granted Woodbury’s motion and dismissed the case.
We thought the district court erred by not considering crucial evidence, including the officers’ statements from the night of the shooting, where at least one officer admitted that Henderson complied with all officer commands. So we appealed the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In November 2018, the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s opinion and held that the case should go to a jury trial. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court erred by failing to consider the officers’ statements from the night of the shooting, and that a jury could rely on those statements to conclude that Mark complied with officer commands, but was shot and killed anyway.
In April 2019, just weeks before trial, Woodbury settled with Henderson’s family for almost $1.5 million – the full amount of insurance policy limits.
We were honored to represent the Henderson family.
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Madia Gets Results in Public Accommodations Discrimination Cases.
Public accommodations discrimination suit under Minnesota Human Rights Act gets $150,000 settlement.
Michael Jointer went to the MegaMall to return 2 Columbia jackets that he purchased. Bloomington police officers on duty stopped him in the mall and asked him for his identification, because they thought he looked like a known shoplifter who had been trespassed, another African-American male named James Combs. Jointer produced his drivers license, which showed that he wasn’t Combs.
That wasn’t good enough for the officers. They ran warrant checks on Jointer. The checks came back clean. That still wasn’t good enough for them.
So they asked to search Jointer’s shopping bag. Jointer allowed them to do so. The officers found no contraband or shoplifted items. But that still wasn’t good enough – they asked for Jointer’s receipts for the jackets. He provided them and they matched. That still wasn’t good enough.
The officers then made Jointer walk with them back into Columbia so they could verify his purchases with the store manager. Only after the store manager confirmed that everything was in order did the officers release Jointer. The total length of their stop of Jointer was 6 minutes.
When we first brought the case, Bloomington offered $5,000 to settle. After we deposed the officers and showed how contradictory their explanations were, Bloomington settled the case for $150,000.
We were honored to represent Michael.
Frequently Asked Questions for Minneapolis Police Shooting, Police Misconduct, and Civil Rights Lawyers
What is the statute of limitations to bring a claim for violation of my constitutional rights?
It varies by claim, but generally it’s 6 years in Minnesota.
What should I do if I’ve been the victim of police brutality?
Document everything. Write down exactly what happened after it happens, when it’s fresh in your mind. Get the police report – you can get that easily by just going to the police department and asking for it. If you had any medical treatment as a result of injuries suffered because of police misconduct, make sure to get the hospital records, too. Have a friend take photographs of any injuries that you suffered. To the extent that you can, write down a list of witnesses who saw what happened, along with their contact information. We’ll use that to get a hold of them quickly and get statements. Also, immediately contact the police department (in writing or email) and tell them that you believe you were the victim of police brutality and that you’d like them to preserve any video that exists of the incident. This puts them on notice to preserve the evidence, and if they delete it, you can get an adverse inference instruction to the jury that the officers destroyed evidence that was likely favorable to you.
Who can bring a lawsuit for my loved one, if he was shot and killed by police officers?
A trustee for your loved one’s “next of kin” can bring the suit. The trustee can be anyone, but is usually his spouse (if he was married), his kids, his parents, or even his siblings. There is a statutory process to have the next of kin appointed as Trustee. The Trustee then brings the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s next of kin. If and when there is a settlement or jury verdict, the Trustee proposes a distribution of the funds amongst the next of kin, but the Court makes the final determination as to how much each family member gets.
What is my police brutality case worth?
This depends on a lot of things. First, the most important variable is the strength of liability: can we prove that police officers broke the law? Are there witnesses or videos of what happened? And can we show that the officers knowingly violated your constitutional right? Second, if your case is strong on liability, the next variable is damages – how were you injured by what happened? Both federal and state law allow you to recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and wage loss damages. You can also seek punitive damages and attorney fees and costs. Third, the value of your case depends on your risk tolerance. If you’re willing to wait for payment, proceed through litigation all the way up to and through trial, then your case is worth a lot more than someone who has a much lower risk tolerance and wants payment soon.
Contact Our Minnesota Police Brutality Lawyers Today
You must act quickly when it comes to filing a claim for police misconduct. If you wait, strict statutes of limitation will bar you from filing your claim. Call Madia today to discuss your case.