Protect Yourself When Interacting with Police
It is natural for law abiding citizens to get nervous when confronted by police. Even though you may have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, when the police do arrive at your home, stop you on the street, or pull you over in your vehicle, there must be a reason. How you act at the scene and even within the first moments of an encounter can mean the difference between your safety and the potential for serious and potentially life threatening personal injuries. Follow these tips to help protect yourself when interacting with police.
OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTINGS
Officer involved shootings, in which the police fire on citizens during traffic stops or other encounters, are more common than you might think. A May 2017 Independent Mail report on a shooting involving a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department points out that it was the 19th such incident to occur in South Carolina this year — and that a total of 41 occurred in our area throughout 2016.
The Anderson incident occurred only weeks after a North Charleston police officer pleaded guilty to the fatal shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott back in April of 2015. National Public Radio reported that the officer pled guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights, after shooting him five times in the back after he attempted to flee during a police stop.
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ABUSIVE POLICE ENCOUNTERS
Not all abusive police encounters involve officer related shootings. Incidents may involve overly aggressive actions such as pushing, hitting or kicking, acts of intimidation and sexual harassment, or violations of civil rights, such as illegal stops, searches and seizures.
During any encounter with law enforcement, it is important to be aware of your rights, while at the same time taking the steps necessary to protect your safety. The South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offers these tips on how to handle these different situations when interacting with police.
If you are stopped in public:
- Inform the officer you wish to remain silent.
- Stay calm. Do not attempt to run or argue with the officer.
- Do not consent to a search.
- Ask to leave if you are not being arrested.
If you are stopped in your car:
- Keep your hands on the steering wheel.
- Do not reach for your driver’s license or vehicle registration until asked to do so.
- Refuse a search if the officer does not have a warrant.
- Remain silent, and do not argue over why you were stopped.
If the police appear at your home:
- Police need a warrant to enter your residence. Ask to see it.
- They are authorized to search only the areas listed on the warrant.
- Remain silent, and do not make any statements until consulting with an attorney.
GET HELP TODAY
If you have been the victim of police harassment or abuse, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm right away. Request a free consultation with our South Carolina injury attorney in our Charleston office or at one of our locations throughout the upstate. We provide the professional legal representation you need to protect your rights in these types of cases, so you can get the compensation you are entitled to. Call or contact us online today.