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racism,  Illinois criminal defense attorneyIn recent months the nation has grappled with the question of police tactics and the use of force by law enforcement officers. Are police becoming too much like a military force that oppresses as opposed to a community presence that encourages cooperation? Are police tactics too aggressive? Is there sufficient oversight to ensure officers do not use too much force in dealing with a situation? While members of local, state, and the national government debate these questions, individuals who observe police tactics on the news may themselves wonder what to do if they believe they are victims of police brutality.

Police Brutality is a Violation of Your Civil Rights

Laws permit police officers to use a reasonable amount of force to protect themselves or others, apprehend a suspect, or defuse a hostile situation. However, when police officers use force that is not reasonable under the circumstances, a federal civil rights violation may have occurred. For instance, an officer who subdues then punches and kicks an elderly woman because she would not move away from an area fast enough has likely violated that woman’s civil rights.

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Posted by on in Chicago News

In 2008, Julio Martinez was falsely charged with a DUI, handcuffed to a metal bar, and beaten by a Chicago Police officer in a holding room. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Officer John Haleas was “indicted and relieved of his police powers in 2008 and pleaded guilty four years later to misdemeanor attempted obstruction of justice.” In early May, the City Council’s Finance Committee ruled that Martinez will be compensated $325,000 by the City of Chicago, “but not before aldermen demanded to know why Haleas was still being paid by Chicago taxpayers,” according to the Sun-Times.

Officer Haleas was once “Chicago’s most prolific officer in making DUI arrests,” according to the Sun-Times, having accumulated 718 arrests in 2005 and 2006. After he was stripped of his badge and accused of falsifying drunken driving arrests, more than 150 of these cases were dismissed. Yet after a five-day suspension that was reduced to one day, Officer Haleas was assigned to the Records Division and is still on the City of Chicago’s payroll.

The case brought up some sore spots for the city and its officers—Terry Ekl, who was representing Martinez in the case, “also represented a diminutive bartender beaten by former Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate in a case that culminated in a $850,000 damage award and a precedent-finding that a ‘code of silence’ in the Chicago Police Department played a role in the videotaped beating.”

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