A veteran New York police officer, with seven years of service, was arrested recently and charged with violating the civil rights of a person he allegedly sprayed with pepper spray in Brooklyn, Thomson Reuters reports.
Civil rights charges filed against police officers are far too common. While there are hundreds of charges a person can face, including theft crimes, drug crimes, assault and battery and even murder in New York, an officer’s worst nightmare is facing a criminal charge for an offense allegedly committed while on duty.Officers require a strong criminal defense just like the average citizen. But while there are thousands of crimes committed every hour nationwide, that means there are thousands of victims as well.
And while not every defendant charged with a crime is guilty, that still leaves victims needing answers. They require legal representation as well. Victims need a strong voice in order to be heard.
In the instance of the police officer, the 31-year-old now faces up to 17 years in prison if he is convicted in federal court of the charges for which he has been indicted. According to Thomson Reuters, the officer allegedly used pepper spray in 2008 during an argument over parking in front of a bar owned by the cop’s cousin.
While on duty and in uniform, the officer allegedly said “no one (expletive) with my cousin’s place,” before he handcuffed and detained the unnamed victim. A second person was also pepper sprayed.
Prosecutors also allege the officer used the department’s computer systems to access information about the victim. They say he also used the computer system to access federal databases on behalf of his cousin, who is being investigated by the FBI on drug trafficking allegations.
If true, this is obviously a disturbing story because police officers have so much authority. To think officers will, while on duty, violate citizens’ rights in order to protect a family member’s business is tough to swallow.
But another thing that must be taken into consideration here is the possibility that this officer — whose cousin is being investigated by the FBI — may have been unfairly targeted.
In a criminal case, all angles must be considered. When a person’s liberty is on the line, everything must be looked at in order to ensure justice is done.
And the victims deserve justice as well. That means getting compensation in cases where they had to pay for medical care or to reimburse them for the emotional and physical turmoil that so often comes with civil rights violations in New York. This is why the legal system was created. All sides must be represented and what is fair must be the outcome.