NY Landscape

How Do I Sue The Cops?

Notice of Claim

Once you have been victimized by the police, you must act quickly in order to preserve your rights. For New York State cases against the New York City Police Department, you will be required to act fast and file what is called a Notice of Claim with the New York City Comptroller’s Office within ninety (90) days of the occurrence. For Federal claims, however, you have a longer period in which you can file your case – 3 years. If your attorney does not meet this deadline, you will not be able to pursue your case and your right to seek monetary or other compensation for your injuries will be lost.

Summons and Complaint

The next step after filing a Notice of Claim is for your attorney to submit a document called a Summons and Complaint to the court. This document must be sent to the opposing parties of the case: the Defendants who have violated your rights. The Summons requires the Defendants to respond to your allegations, and the Complaint lays out your allegations, cites the specific laws the police have violated, and requires them to file an Answer to your Complaint within either twenty (20) or thirty (30) days.

Discovery – Swapping Information

Once the initial documents have been submitted in your case, the discovery phase of your lawsuit will begin. During this stage of litigation, which typically lasts several months, the Plaintiff and Defendants have the right to request documents and information from each other that will help them prepare for settlement negotiations or a trial. In New York City police misconduct cases, these documents typically include medical records of any treatment received for injuries caused by the police in addition to employment records and tax returns that help to determine wages lost as a result of the police misconduct. Witnesses can be questioned by the attorneys during what are called Examinations Before Trial (EBTs), also known as depositions. In all cases against New York City or New York City agencies such as the NYPD, you will be questioned about the facts of your case by a City attorney in what is known as a 50-h hearing.

It is critical that you have an attorney at your side throughout the discovery process to prepare and review documents, call and question witnesses, and construct your lawsuit during this important stage of the legal process. Only an experienced civil rights lawyer can best build your case as it moves towards settlement or trial.


Before, during, and after the discovery process, attorneys are able to file motions. A motion is a document asking the court to make a ruling about certain aspects of the case, such as whether or not certain evidence may be used in court. These documents are often very technical, and they must be written, submitted, and argued in a certain way in order to succeed. Again, it is necessary that you have a knowledgeable attorney working for you who can file motions on your behalf.

Settlement negotiations

Many police misconduct cases end in a settlement. This means that the parties agree to end the lawsuit in exchange for a binding agreement that usually includes monetary compensation. Settlements are agreed to after negotiations between the attorneys, who take into account the severity of the allegations, evidence obtained during discovery, and numerous other factors. The attorneys at PetersonDelleCave LLP have extensive experience negotiating settlements in both police misconduct cases and other multi-million dollar cases involving New York City, and they will fight to obtain the best possible result in your case.

The Trial

Cases that do not reach a settlement are decided by a trial if there is an issue of fact to be decided. The trial stage is what you often see on TV shows like “Law & Order”: both sides present their evidence and witnesses to a jury, which decides whether or not the Plaintiff is entitled to compensation, and if so, how much.

Before the trial itself begins, jurors must be chosen to hear the evidence. In the jury selection process (also called the voir dire, or “speak the truth” in Latin), the attorneys question potential jurors to determine whether they will be able to observe the case fairly and impartially. It is critical that you have an experienced attorney with you at this stage to help you select the jurors best-suited to hear your case.

The trial begins with opening statements. This is the first time the lawyers speak to the jury. Typically, they lay out their evidence and explain the points they will try to make. After these statements, both sides call witnesses, who are questioned about their knowledge of the facts of the case. After both sides have presented all their witnesses and evidence, the attorneys have one final chance to speak to the jury during their closing statements.

After the closing statements, the Judge will read the jury instructions. These instructions explain the laws at issue in the case to the jury members and give them important information about how they will decide the outcome of the case. The jury then leaves the courtroom and begins its deliberations. Once they have decided the case, they return to the courtroom and the Judge announces their verdict.

As you can see, the ins and outs of civil rights lawsuits are complex, and you need a reputable New York City law firm with extensive police misconduct experience to stand beside you throughout the legal process: You need PetersonDelleCave LLP to help you file your false arrest or police misconduct lawsuit against the NYPD.

Police Misconduct Law Famous Police Misconduct Cases

RODNEY KING - Excessive force
In 1991, Rodney King, an African-American male, was arrested for DUI and resisting arrest. In the course of the arrest, officers of the LAPD hit him with batons 56 times, causing 11 skull fractures. The subsequent acquittal at trial of the officers involved sparked the LA riots of 1992 that caused over $1 billion of property damage in the city. Mr. King was awarded $3.8 million damages in his civil case against the city.

AMADOU DIALLO - Excessive force, Wrongful death
In 1999, African-American man Amadou Diallo was shot by the NYPD in the Bronx as he supposedly reached for a weapon - which turned out to be his wallet. The officers were later found to have fired a total of 41 shots at the unarmed victim, who died instantly. The officers were acquitted of all charges, but in a civil case against the city Amadou’s family won $3 million in damages.

SEAN BELL - Excessive force, Wrongful death
In 2006, Sean Bell and several friends attended his bachelor party at a club in Queens. After they left the club, undercover NYPD Officers who were conducting an unrelated investigation fired 50 shots into their vehicle, even though there was no evidence of a gun on the suspects. Mr. Bell was killed and two others were permanently injured. The victims were awarded damages in excess of $7 million.

ABNER LOUIMA – Excessive force, Violation of Civil Rights
Abner Louima was arrested coming out of a Brooklyn nightclub in 1997 and was forcibly sodomized in a New York jail by two NYPD officers. One of the Officers, Justin Volpe, was tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Mr. Louima was awarded $8.75 million in damages.

Client Reviews
I can't express how much Peterson Delle Cave LLP helped me and my family gain justice against the two NYPD cops who abused us. It was immediately obvious that Duncan and Malcolm were extremely experienced in handling cases against NYPD. They clearly explained to me how to sue NYPD, and were up front and clear about the length and difficulty of filing a lawsuit. They kept me informed throughout the entire process and their responses were always timely and thorough. I was very happy with the outcome and results they achieved for me and my family. I would recommend PetersonDelleCave LLP to anyone that wants to sue NYPD. L.D.
At first I was hesitant to contact a law firm I found on the internet, but from the moment I first visited PetersonDelleCave LLP’s Manhattan office I knew I had made the right choice. Mr. Delle Cave is a friendly, knowledgeable attorney who negotiated with the City’s lawyers and obtained a settlement in my case that exceeded my expectations. J. T.
From the beginning to the end of my case, Mr. Peterson was kind, understanding, and always available. He always made sure I understood every step of my case. I could not have asked for a more knowledgeable, responsive, hard-working attorney to represent me against the NYPD. I. J.