USE OF FORCE by the police falls under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution because it involves the “seizure” of a free citizen. Whether a use of force is “brutal” (or excessive) is case-specific and hinges on whether the act was objectively reasonable under the circumstances (Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 1989). Excessive force by jail and prison personnel constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment.

Excessive use of force by officers of the criminal justice system, if found to be intentional, is punishable by state statutes covering crimes of violence (assault, rape, and homicide) and by the federal statute 18 U.S.C. §242. The latter covers “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law,” and punishes by up to a year in federal prison ...

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