There are several potential defendants in a police
misconduct case: 1) the individual officer or officers who
committed the misconduct, 2) those who supervised or
hired these officers, 3) the governmental agency for which
these persons worked, such as the city, county or state, and
4) the federal government.
The considerations involved in bringing suit against
each of these potential defendants is discussed in turn.
A. Individual Officers
A police officer who commits misconduct can be the
subject of either a tort or a civil rights lawsuit and is liable
for damages. (Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961))
The victim of police misconduct should also consider
naming other officers in the lawsuit if they were
responsible, directly or indirectly, for the damages suffered.
If a group of officers were at the scene and the plaintiff is
unsure of which one inflicted the injury, or a number of
officers acted together, the plaintiff should name all of the
officers as defendants. This includes officers who were at
the scene but who failed to do anything to stop the
misconduct, since they too may be liable. (E.g., United
States v. Koon, 34 F.3d 1416 (9th Cir. 1994)—the Rodney