Mon 11 Dec, 2023 Police Misconduct

Can I Sue the Police for Pointing a Gun at Me?

If the police wrongfully pointed a gun at you, then you might want to get justice and sue them.

After all, having a gun pointed at you is one of the scariest experiences imaginable. Victims of wrongfully drawn guns understandably see their lives flash before their eyes.

Unfortunately, the law on police pulling guns on people is not consistent. Your outcome is very dependent on your jurisdiction. In other words, where you live will impact whether you can successfully sue the police for pointing a gun at you.

This guide outlines how you can seek justice when the police point a gun at you. If the NYPD pointed a gun at you in NYC, contact Cody Warner, P.C. for a free consultation. We can assess whether you may have successful claims if you sue the NYPD.

Do the Police Violate the Law If They Point a Gun at Someone?

Many police departments have internal protocol about when officers may point a gun at a person. However, you don’t necessarily have an actionable lawsuit against the police when they violate internal police procedure. Arguably, the best way to have a successful claim in court is by asserting a constitutional violation of excessive force.

Otherwise known as police brutality, an excessive force claim occurs when the police use force that is objectively unreasonable under the circumstances.

The United States Supreme Court has not yet decided whether pulling a gun on an unarmed person is an unconstitutional use of excessive force. However, lower-level courts have ruled on the issue, and they have not reached a consensus. Therefore, the success of an excessive force claim when the police point a gun at you depends on which court has jurisdiction over your case.

Is it Excessive Force to Point a Gun at Someone in New York?

In New York, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals—the federal appellate court—has not directly ruled on whether it’s excessive force when the police point a gun at a person who is not armed and dangerous.

However, lower-level federal courts in New York—called district courts—have dealt with excessive force claims related to the police pointing guns, and they have reached different conclusions. Some district courts have held that excessive force cannot occur when the police point guns, because the threat of force is not the actual use of force. Other district courts have found the police liable for pointing guns at people.

District courts that have found the police liable have considered the following factors:

  • The severity of the alleged crime;
  • Whether the individual had a weapon;
  • If officers had alternative ways to effectuate an arrest or overcome resistance;
  • Whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the officers’ or public’s safety;
  • If the individual was suffering from mental illness;
  • Whether the individual was resisting or evading arrest.

The more threatening the police were to you (e.g., pointing the gun at your head, verbally threatening you) and the less of a threat you appeared to be (e.g. you did not have a gun drawn, were not being chased for murder, etc.) then the more likely you will have a successful excessive force for the police pointing a gun at you.

Can I Sue the NYPD for Pointing a Gun at Me?

If the NYPD pointed a gun at you, you might be able to bring a successful lawsuit against the NYPD. The worth of your lawsuit will be dependent on many factors such as whether you were also falsely arrested and whether the police caused you physical injury.

Contact Cody Warner, P.C. for a free consultation to discuss the merits of your case. We can advise you on which claims you can bring against the NYPD. We take civil rights cases on a contingency basis, which means that you pay nothing out-of-pocket. We only get paid if you win. If you want to move forward with us, we will get working on your case today.