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A St. Louis patrolman is facing disciplinary proceedings after he struck a man with a baton, choked him and slammed his head into the bumper of a patrol car. He is the subject of a disciplinary trial aimed at determining whether he should be reinstated after his suspension is over.

The victim in this case was suspected of trespassing at a downtown casino and was placed in handcuffs. While arresting him, the officer in question allegedly used excessive force, racial slurs and obscenities. Surveillance video at the scene showed the officer choking the suspect and slamming his head against the bumper. A casino paramedic testified that the officer also struck the suspect with a baton.

The suspect in this case had previously been banned after an earlier trespassing conviction. Since the incident he has filed a lawsuit against the casino, arguing that they were negligent for letting him in the night of this altercation.

It would be nice to believe that law enforcement officials are seriously committed to protecting public safety and ensuring that justice is served but, as this example illustrates, that is not always the case. Everyone, regardless of their history or the circumstances surrounding their arrest, is entitled to certain fundamental rights under the United States Constitution. Those rights include the right to remain silent not incriminate oneself, the right to counsel and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. When law enforcement officials violate a person's due process and put those rights in jeopardy, it can seem like there is nowhere to turn.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal accusations or charges, it is essential to seek assistance as soon as possible. Consider getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney who can help you review and evaluate the charges brought against you. He or she can guide you through the criminal justice system while representing your best interests and guarding your fundamental rights.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis officer used excessive force, racial slurs in arrest, department says," Joel Currier, Feb. 26, 2013

To learn more about defending against criminal charges in Missouri, please visit our website.

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