At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm P.C., we are committed to advocating for victims of improper use of firearms by cops, unlawful killings, police beatings, and racial abuse. Further, we are dedicated to addressing police brutality, police misconduct, and wrongful deaths caused by law enforcement officers in our community. here is an overview of these pressing issues, the legal avenues available, and how our law firm can lead you to justice.
1. Understanding Police Brutality & Misconduct:
Police brutality encompasses the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, resulting in physical harm or injury to individuals. Police misconduct refers to any wrongful actions or behavior by police officers that violate the law or individuals' rights, including racial abuse. Wrongful deaths caused by police officers have devastating effects on families and communities. Cases involving improper use of firearms by cops are deeply troubling, and those affected deserve justice and accountability. Sadly, almost fifteen percent (15%) of all civilians that have experienced police threat of or use of force are injured by the police actions. Almost six hundred (600) to one thousand (1,000) people are killed in the United States every year by law enforcement. Here in New Mexico, we have seen repeated improper use of force that has resulted in the death of New Mexicans. For example, the Gauthier & Maier Law Firm represents the family of David Aguilera who was improperly shot and killed by Chaves County Sheriff's Deputies. Further, the Gauthier & Maier Law Firm represents the family of Colby Atkins who was shot by Bernalillo County Sheriff Deputies after an accidental misfire by one deputy caused around ten deputies to shoot at Colby Atkins believing he had a gun. The national issue of Police Brutality and Misconduct is occurring here in New Mexico and the government has not moved to prosecute these claims. Thus, families and victims of police violence must hire an attorney to seek the justice that they are owed. If you or your loved one has experienced police brutality, police misconduct, wrongful death, improper use of firearms, unlawful killings, police beatings, or racial abuse, it is crucial to understand the legal avenues available for redress.
2. The New Mexico Tort Claims Act & The New Mexico Civil Rights Act:
The main legal claim against police violence and brutality in New Mexico is based on state laws. The New Mexico Tort Claims Act provides a means to bring claims against governmental entities, including police departments, for tortious acts committed by their employees. This standard allows for negligence claims that would not be viable with a federal civil rights claim. You are allowed to bring a lawsuit within 2 years of the incident so long as you provide notice of your potential claim within ninety (90) days of the incident. See NMSA 1978, Section 41-4-15 - 16. The lawsuit can be for:
"personal injury, bodily injury, wrongful death or property damage resulting from assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, libel, slander, defamation of character, violation of property rights, the independent tort of negligent spoliation of evidence or the independent tort of intentional spoliation of evidence, failure to comply with duties established pursuant to statute or law or any other deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the constitution and laws of the United States or New Mexico when caused by law enforcement officers while acting within the scope of their duties."
NMSA 1978, Section 41-4-12. The New Mexico Civil Rights Act allows victims to pursue claims against police officers directly, holding them accountable for their actions for the deprivations of a person's civil rights under the New Mexico State Constitution's Bill of Rights. New Mexico's Bill of Rights has similar rights to the United States Constitution but is even more expansive. This claim must be sent by notice to the at-fault government entity within one (1) year of the incident and then must have a lawsuit filed within two years of the incident. See NMSA 1978, Section 41-4a-7 and 41-4a-13. The main benefit of the New Mexico Civil Rights Act is Qualified Immunity, an affirmative defense that bars federal constitutional rights claims unless there is a clear violation of a constitutional right, which is not an allowable defense under this claim. The downside of bringing either the New Mexico Tort Claims Act or the New Mexico Civil Rights Act claim is that the claims are capped on damages to $1,050,000 (with a loss of consortium claim) and $2,000,000 respectively. Further, you can generally not seek punitive or penalty damages on these claims.
3. Bringing a Federal Civil Rights Claim under 42 USC 1983:
The final option for legal justice against police brutality and misconduct is Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code which enables individuals to seek justice in federal court for violations of their federal constitutional rights, including cases involving police brutality, misconduct, and racial abuse. However, the police will always claim qualified immunity which will mandate a federal court review, which can take up to a year, and no discovery or litigation tools will be available to you during the review. Federal courts have continued to expand the qualified immunity defense for police misconduct resulting in many cases being barred and dismissed. The benefit of a 1983 claim is that there is no cap to the amount of monetary damages and punitive or penalty damages are allowable. For this reason, it is crucial that you look to retain an attorney on these types of claims.
Why Choose Gauthier & Maier Law Firm P.C.:
Our law firm has extensive experience in handling cases related to police misconduct, brutality, and wrongful deaths. We are well-versed in laws and regulations to build strong cases. Cases involving improper use of firearms by cops demand specialized expertise, and our firm is equipped to handle these complex matters. We are dedicated to advocating for justice and accountability for victims of police brutality, misconduct, and racial abuse. Our team will tirelessly pursue your case to achieve the best possible outcome. Further, we understand the immense pain of losing a loved one due to police actions. Our compassionate approach ensures you have a supportive legal team during this difficult time.
If you or your family has suffered due to police brutality, misconduct, wrongful death, improper use of firearms, unlawful killings, police beatings, or racial abuse, seeking legal representation is essential. The New Mexico Tort Claims Act, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, and 42 USC 1983 provide avenues for justice. The Gauthier & Maier Law Firm P.C. is ready to stand by your side. Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step towards holding those responsible accountable. We will discuss your case, explain your options, and help you determine your next best steps.