Pruitt v Alexander

Represented client injured by custodial staff while in prison. Case settled for $500,000 before trial.

Riley v Orange County

Represented client injured by custodial staff while in jail. Case settled for $335,000 before trial.

Confidential Settlement.

Represented client subject to unreasonable search and seizure, and then subject to excessive force, being Tased by a police officer. Case settled for $400,000 before trial.

Police Brutality

For some time now, there has been trouble brewing around our country’s police force.  It seems we have a problem with police violence and brutality.  There have been several high-profile cases involving civilians and law enforcement that have thrown this shadow on our nation’s police force.  Fatal cases where excessive force including shootings and beatings led to death have dominated news reports.  This has propagated social outcry across our country.    The issue of police brutality has become so problematic and publicized that many news outlets now have sections dedicated solely to police brutality news.  When law enforcement officials go beyond their duty and step into the arena of misconduct and negligence it can have devastating and life-long consequences.

So what can we make of these incidents?  How much blame does our law enforcement deserve?  What does it mean when law enforcement, who are paid to protect and serve, are guilty of committing police brutality?  And what can you do if you have experienced police brutality and misconduct?



Lethal Excessive Force

There have been several high-profile cases recently in which law enforcement have taken measures of force to the point of death. Though every case is different there is one fact that is clear; lethal force should be a last resort for law enforcement.  In many of these cases, it appears that lethal force was used inappropriately or prematurely.  There are guidelines in place in the U.S. that define when lethal force is justified.

  • The use of deadly force is lawful when sworn law enforcement officers reasonably believe the subject poses a significant threat of serious bodily injury or death to themselves or others.
  • The use of deadly force is lawful when used to prevent the escape of a felon if the officer believes their escape may be a risk of significant bodily injury or death to the public.

For the families of the victims of lethal force, the loss can be devastating.  If the death was a result of police negligence or outright misconduct, it becomes an even heavier burden.  Knowing what route to take legally can be difficult.  If you find yourself in this situation we can help.  Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus can lead and guide you towards the best possible outcome for your family.  We can help with:

  • Monetary damages.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Wrongful death suits.
  • Civil torts.


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Non-lethal Excessive Force

Law enforcement officers by oath are sworn to uphold and enforce our laws with integrity and honor.  They are sworn to never betray public trust and to uphold the constitution.  Unfortunately, there are those in law enforcement who for whatever reasons, break that oath.  In the majority of police agencies, officers are expected to attempt to control subjects in a manner that uses the least amount of force necessary.  Sadly, many find it necessary to use excessive force to control subjects.

  • Punching and kicking.
  • Batons
  • Pepper sprays
  • Tasers
  • K-9 units

These are just a few of the tools that officers are given to use in the submission of subjects.  Though there are times these methods can be justified, unfortunately, there has been an increase of situations in which they are unnecessary. This is why an excessive force attorney is so important.

If you or a family member are a victim of police misconduct through the use of excessive force, we can help you.  As a victim of this kind of police brutality, you have the right to seek damages and financial compensation.  Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus, our attorneys specialize in police misconduct.  We can assess your situation and make sure you get the justice you deserve.

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Police Shootings

In 2016, over 1,000 people were shot and killed by law enforcement, many of which were due to police misconduct and negligence.  As we all know many of these cases have been highly publicized.  In the past, police shootings have been difficult cases to win.  However, with the advancement of cell phone technology that includes video recording capabilities and dash cams, today we are seeing more instances where the shootings have been recorded.  This combined with the increased focus on police misconduct and negligence especially in cases of shootings is changing the way in which these cases are handled.

When law enforcement officers resort to using their firearms it should be in situations that yield no other options.  It should be a last resort.  Even then it can be argued that the shooting doesn’t have to be fatal to subdue a subject.  In too many cases law enforcement officers have abused the use of their firearms in ways that are outright criminal.  I don’t think anyone believes that police have an easy job or that a situation can’t become life threatening very quickly.  Yet, at the same time, there are those who choose to use deadly force by a firearm when there are better options available.

Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus, we are experts in cases of police shootings.  If you or a loved one have been affected by an unlawful police shooting we can help you in your quest for justice.  Let us help you with your case so you can gain closure, justice, and change.

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Police Tasers

A Taser is an electroshock weapon that fires small dart-like electrodes.  These electrodes are attached to the Taser gun by conductors.  These guns deliver an electric current that disrupts the voluntary control of muscles which cause neuromuscular incapacitation.  When this weapon is used to subdue a subject the subject experiences extreme pain and the over-stimulation of sensory and motor nerves.  This results in involuntary muscle contractions and leaves the subject incapacitated.

Tasers can be a very effective alternative to more life threatening means of subduing subjects, however, unfortunately, there are cases when law enforcement uses them in an unlawful manner.  There have also been instances in which Tasers have led to serious injury and even death.  So suffice to say they should only be used when absolutely necessary.   Some issues of concern with Tasers include:

  • Prolonged voltage: Some Taser models have a manual release which can lead to instances when the subject is exposed to prolonged exposure to up 50,000 volts.  This can lead to serious injury and even death.
  • Health issues: Many people have physical ailments such as heart conditions which can be exacerbated by exposure to electricity.  This is a serious concern that can lead to unintended consequences.
  • Presence of drugs: Another issue of concern is the way the electrical current can affect a subject with drugs in their system.  Some combination of drugs, when combined with electricity can be fatal.

Due to the fact that these weapons can inflict serious damage and even death, the overuse of these weapons should be seen as misconduct and police brutality.  Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus, we can guide you through the legal process if you or a loved have been affected by a police Tasing.

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Wrongful Arrest

False arrests are one of the most common forms of law enforcement misconduct and are considered another form of police brutality.  A false arrest occurs when someone is held or taken into custody without probable cause or an order issued by a court with jurisdiction.  This happens more frequently than you may think.

Many times the individual is ignorant of their rights which law enforcement can exploit.  The 4th Amendment protects civilians from false arrest.  If you win a case at trial or if the charges against you are thrown out without admission of fault, you can sue the law enforcement agency for damages.  The effects of a false arrest can have a devastating impact on your life in several ways:

  • Loss of freedom: Even if for a short period a false arrest egregiously takes away your freedom.
  • Disrupts employment: A false arrest can disrupt you from your job and cause negative issues out of your control.
  • Disrupt family responsibilities: A false arrest can disrupt familial duties and responsibilities which can have a negative impact.
  • Emotional/Mental distress: The emotional impact of being arrested, especially a false arrest, can be extremely embarrassing and frightening.
  • Damage to your reputation: A false arrest can hurt your reputation.  Even when it is deemed you are innocent the stigma can be hard to shake.
  • Financial ramifications: The financial ramification stemming from a false arrest can be damaging to your situation.

If you have been arrested wrongfully you have a right to receive damages to help compensate you for the unjust suffering you were exposed to.  Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus, we can help get the compensation and justice that you deserve.

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K-9 Units

K-9 units are highly efficient law enforcement units that use canines to sniff out illegal contraband and subdue subjects.  These units can be a major asset to law enforcement agencies when used correctly.  However, as it with other police methods, these units can be used for inappropriate misconduct and brutality.

An attack by a trained K-9 can have lethal consequences on the subject.  In cases where officers release a K-9 to subdue a subject, it can be an extremely violent and harmful weapon.  An unwarranted K-9 release and attack is a particularly brutal form of police brutality.  The ensuing physical damage can lead to life-threatening injury and death.  A K-9 unit is trained to exhibit certain behaviors and in the hands of an incompetent or malevolent officer should be considered a deadly weapon.  Some issues with these units include

  • K-9 units being released without verbal warning to the subject.
  • Failure to control or call off the K-9 after release.
  • K-9 units being used to control mentally ill subjects.
  • K-9 units used against private dogs.

Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus, we understand the physical and emotional trauma inflicted when law enforcement uses trained K-9’s for misconduct or in a negligent manner.  We can help guide you through the process of seeking compensation and justice for an unjust K-9 attack.

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Prison Guard Misconduct

Incarceration can be a stressful and dangerous environment.  Prisons are filled with violent criminals who can be aggressive and dangerous.  Prison guards are there to enforce the rules of the prison and to ensure the safety of inmates from these dangers.  However, there are guards who contribute to the danger.  There are many forms of misconduct that prison guards contribute to including:

  • Physical Abuse: Physical abuse of inmates come in the form of beatings or allowing inmates to physically abuse one another.
  • Sexual Abuse: Rape, harassment and the allowance of inmates to engage in sex crime.
  • Mental/Emotional Abuse: The use of verbal threats, humiliation or unjust punishment.
  • Withholding Health Care: The withholding of medications, treatment or examinations by guards.

Prison Guards who participate in misconduct of any kind should be held accountable as should the institutes that employ them.  Prison Guards have a difficult job, however, it doesn’t excuse these bad behaviors.  If you have been the victim of Prison Guard misconduct, here at the Law Office of Mervyn S. Lazarus, we can help you receive damages to compensate for unjust suffering and abuse.

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Inmate Medical Neglect

Criminals who are incarcerated have lost their right to freedom.  However, this does not take away basic civil rights.  The 8th Amendment protects inmates from cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately, there are many instances in which inmates have had their basic civil rights violated.

One of the most serious and threatening methods of prison misconduct is when an inmate is forbidden their right to medical treatment.  Whether it be the withholding of medications, treatment for illness or treatment of injuries.  The ramifications of these violations can cause unnecessary pain, illness, and even death.  As an inmate, you have the right to:

  • Medical treatments and medications.
  • Treatment of injuries and illnesses by a medical professional.
  • Ethical and appropriate medical treatment.

In an atmosphere of medical misconduct within a prison, the effects can cause unnecessary suffering.  It can have long-lasting effects.  It can lead to death.  Medical malpractice in a prison system is a severe violation of your civil rights and you should seek damages.   Here at the Law Offices of Mervyn S. Lazarus, we can help you in your case against prison medical misconduct.

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1198 N. Arrowhead
San Bernardino CA 92408

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Newport Beach, CA 92660

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