What is Considered Excessive Force?

What is Considered Excessive Force?

What is Considered Excessive Force?

When police officers are given a badge, they are bestowed upon a large amount of power. They are allowed to carry weapons, such as guns and batons, arrest perpetrators, and use deadly force, whenever necessary. Most officers perform their job responsibly and ethically without overstepping the legal boundaries. They put their lives on the line to protect our lives and maintain law and order. While it can be a dangerous and stressful job, police officers are allowed to use reasonable force demanded by the situation.


What is Excessive Force?


Excessive force can be defined as a situation where actions of a law enforcement officer exceeded the minimum amount of force necessary to handle a perpetrator, stop an incident from taking place, or protect others and themselves from harm. The concept of excessive force is applicable of mostly all kind of government officials, but when it comes to police officers using more than required force, especially during an arrest, it is known as police brutality.


Excessive Force Under the Illinois Criminal Code


Under the Illinois Criminal Code, a police officer is only allowed to use justifiable force against perpetrators. The statute 720 ILCS 5/7-5 has certain guidelines for a law enforcement officer regarding the use of force when making an arrest, including;


  • Reasonable force can be used when a suspect is showing resistance or trying to escape.
  • The suspect tried to escape with the help of a deadly weapon, or threatened to put other the lives of people in danger by using it to kill or injury them.
  • The suspect attempted to commit or committed a felony crime involving threat of serious injury or the infliction of serious bodily harm to the officer or other people.


In Illinois, a lot of cases have been reported where police officers were accused of using excessive force. In other words, if the suspect is not resistant, but the officer still takes further action, this can be considered as excessive force, which is in direct violation of an individual’s constitutional rights.


Examples of Excessive Force


Here are a few examples of situations where the force used by the police can be considered excessive based on the specific circumstances:


  • Aggressively touching or pushing when a suspect is not resisting or following orders
  • Handcuffing a suspect too tightly
  • Hitting a suspect when they are not showing any resistance
  • Hitting a suspect when they are handcuffed
  • Using a flashlight or baton to strike a suspect when it is not necessary to subdue them
  • Using a taser when an alternate, less severe action would be enough
  • Letting loose a police dog on a suspect when they were not trying to escape
  • Using pepper spray or mace unnecessarily
  • Closing a door on a subdued suspect to cause pain or injury
  • Using deadly force, such as a gun, which is only allowed in extreme situations


Even if a law enforcement officer has a warrant against you, they cannot use excessive force and the same laws and regulations would apply in that situation. However, proving excessive force crimes can be difficult as you are filing a charge against a government official. You will need to work with an experienced excessive force attorney who can provide skilled legal counsel and aggressively represent your case in court. Contact the law firm of Michael D. Ettinger & Associates, today 708-377-5426 to discuss your case today.