Can you stop a cop from using excessive force on someone?

Example: A police officer is punching a defenseless person on the ground repeatedly.

Would there be anyway a citizen could prevent that police officer from continuing his assault? Would physically stopping the police officer be an option if he refuses to listen to you? To take it a step further, what if it appears the officer is beating the person to death? In that moment if a citizen tried stopping that police officer physically would they be in trouble for attacking a police officer if it was in defense of someone else? Can other police officers put other cops under arrest amidst them beating someone excessively? What I’m getting at is how does the law feel about citizens physically preventing a police officer from use of excessive force?
Also to what degree of excessive force would warrant citizens to physically stop the police officer? Say there is blood drawn and the person is on the ground not defending or attacking. How would it play out if you put an officer under citizens arrest after physically preventing him from excessive force?

You really don’t want to interfere with an officer on duty doing their job. You could be arrested or worse depending on the mood of the cop. Take out your phone, start filming and call 911 to report what is happening. Getting involved, even if you are in a group of onlookers, wouldn’t be a very smart thing to do IMHO. Oh, and hey Barack, we sure miss you.

I don’t know, can you?

That’s not snark, necessarily. For one thing, the cops in the US are always armed. So you’re risking your own life to interfere. For another, the justice system is almost always on the police’s side. Remember all those murderers who got paid vacations?

Succeed or fail, if you survive the encounter you WILL go to court, and you’re going to have to face a judge who is used to “police = trustworthy” and “everyone else = criminal” with very few exceptions. Furthermore, you can be sure the “thin blue line” will not be on your side, right or wrong.

On the other hand, we’re all moral creatures. If you need to risk your own life, safety and freedom in order to sleep at night, then I guess that’s what you need to do.

Strictly speaking, there is such a thing as a citizen’s arrest, and cops are actually capable of breaking the law, so there is a long shot chance that you’ll end up a justified hero. But the odds of that outcome seem pretty slim to me.

I’m reminded of this meme about your “rights” when dealing with police.

I agree with dolphinboy that trying to intervene is a good way to get your ass beat. And if you survive to see the incident go to court, it will be your word against the cop’s. So, as a practical matter, you probably don’t have a (broken) leg to stand on.

But, I’m also curious what the law says. I think this is an interesting question. I’m sure it varies by location. But, are there laws on the books that address whether I can jump in to protect someone being abused by a cop? It’s my understanding that in many (most?) states, a citizen can use deadly force to protect a third party. If a criminal is attacking someone, I believe a passerby is within his or her legal rights to use deadly force to protect the victim. (Obviously if I’m wrong, I welcome correction). What if the person doing the attacking is in uniform, though?

Again, in practice, you’re almost certainly fucked if you’re the third man in. But, as you’re heading to your execution, can you at least comfort yourself with the knowledge that you really shouldn’t have been convicted?

For what it’s worth, which isn’t much, in every case I’m aware of where a “good” cop tried to stop a “bad” cop from abusing a citizen, the “good” cop was immediately fired.

That’s probably a big helping of media bias, but if even cops can’t prevent other cops from abusing people without punishment, what hope does a random Joe off the street have? Unless you actually are Barack Obama, in which case your chances probably go way up.

Interesting. So what if you are the legendary “good guy with a gun” and believe the cop will kill the person he is assaulting. How stupid/brave would you have to be to actually shoot the cop?

depending on the situation I wouldn’t call it stupidity.
Once anyone commits a crime they should be held responsible, ESPECIALLY when that crime involves the safety of another person.

If I see a police officer beating someone over the head repeatedly, and that person isn’t resisting or fighting back then I believe I have the right to kill that person right then and there. He committed a crime so severe that he could literally kill someone. What I’m getting at is, at one point does the law kick in for police officers?
I understand when it goes to the courts they’ll rule against the officer, but what in that momment? Does the law have any actual say so when a police officer is trying to murder someone, say the person they’re assaulting is someone they have a grudge against. Should I sit idle by and watch another human die because they’re a police officer? Or should I kill them to prevent them from murdering someone else? Especially if that someone else is seemingly innocent and has posed 0 threat to anyone and has not done anything to warrant that kind of abuse even in the most outragous circumstances.

I did a Google search on this and found this…well, looks like a legal message board. Basically, the same as the answers given here, for the most part. I found this one fairly interesting:

I’m not a lawyer nor do I play on on the SDMB, but everything I’m seeing seems to indicate that a regular citizen doesn’t have the authority to make ANY sort of arrest, especially against a police officer. I’m sure the SDMB legal beagles can cite specifics but looks to me as if your best bet is to do what the first poster suggested…take our your cell phone and video the whole thing (maybe stream it actually), then be prepared to be a witness or at least legally involved through the courts in the aftermath.

That’s a damn good question and needed an official answer to this situation. A cop do not have a right to abuse a person therefore abusing his authority or go beyond it.

A citizen, especially legally armed, has a legal right to use deadly force to stop the threat of severe bodily harm/death to the third party.

What could happen in the courts could be scary enough for you to walk on and mind your own business.

Wow. That goes way beyond your original question, about whether you could interfere to attempt to stop police brutality. I’m pretty sure you don’t actually have the right to kill a police office whom you suspect of using excessive force. And I would STRONGLY recommend that you never, ever, kill a police officer, no matter what you see them doing.

IANAL but I’d say on paper it might be theoretically legal, in practice it would be an excellent way to get beaten up, shot, arrested and convicted of felony assaulting a police office.

What I had in mind (which i didn’t paint a clear enough image) was a single momment where you see a officer beating the living shit out of someone and you know they’re going to die.

You can go up and say stop it you’re going to kill him, but then it could be too late. If you see a persons body stop moving and they’re continuing to be beaten after they’re unconscious, I feel that gives me every right to kill that criminal whether they’re a cop or not. My point is to what degree are we allowed to enforce the law onto those enforcing the law?

If this was the 1960s and any of us saw a police officer brutally beating a man unconscious then continuing the assault, would we just sit by and watch? Even if we know the man could die? Do police really have such a privledge that they’re above murdering people? Do they get a pass to unjustifiably murder someone in front of people? That’s bullshit.

So what if I cuckheld the police officer. He now wants to murder me. Is my family, friends, and peers suppose to sit by and watch him murder me because he’s a cop? What if they try to stop him from murdering me then he turns on them trying to murder them? Is it not justifiable to protect your self from the police?

This shouldn’t be the case. Cops aren’t special, they aren’t judges. They are just regular citizens who’s duty is to enforce the law. Once they use their power to oppress others, we have serious issues, and it’s been going on for longer than my parents have been alive.

This thread may of been better suited in the debate section, I originally intended to get a straight forward answer but I can’t help but indulge my self.

I posed this question to my ex-father-in-law once who was a cop for most of his life. He asked me how do I know what preceded my walking up to the situation? The old man on the ground may have 10 minutes earlier shot 5 innocent kids. You’re going to interfere with a cop trying to contain this guy, no matter how brutal that may look to you?

:frowning: (my bolding)

Legally speaking that would make no difference. If the father of one of those kids was beating on the old man, he’d still be committing assault, and a passer by would be well within their rights to intervene physically to stop the assault.

The fact the individual doing the beating was cop shouldn’t make difference. In practice it is not going to end well for anyone intervening physically against the police.

I’d like a factual GQ answer if one is possible so I’m glad you posted it here.

What if it were the other way around: someone had a cop down on the ground and was punching him. Would you have the same desire to intervene in this case? Would you be just as outraged?

This is so scary. They really do think like that don’t they? It’s not about doing their jobs as professionals, it’s about having the power to do what they want, and fuck anyone else who tells them different.

Yes. And in this case I guess the law would be on your side.

Imagine a scenario in which the cop is beating a defenseless 12 year old to death, the father intervenes and starts beating the cop to death, THEN you come in to the picture! :cool: