What Happens When a Police Officer’s Rubber Bullet Hits You

We count on police officers to protect us. Sometimes, that means a police officer must use reasonable force to control a situation.

Law enforcement officers may not use excessive force. Nothing, not even a gun, is always off-limits, however. Instead, a police officer’s use of force must be individually evaluated in each unique situation. Specifically, police officers must:

  • First, consider whether their uniformed presence as law enforcement officials will control the situation.
  • Next, police officers may issue verbal warnings.
  • If a person, or crowd, does not respond to verbal warnings, then physical contact, such as handcuffs or physical restraints may be used.
  • The next step after physical contact is non-deadly weapons, including but not limited to rubber bullets and tear gas.
  • Finally, if none of these methods work, then police officers may use deadly force to protect themselves or the public.

If a police officer’s rubber bullet hurt you or killed your loved one, then you likely have questions about law enforcement’s use of rubber bullets. Below, we will try to address some common concerns, but we always encourage you to contact our Iowa police brutality lawyers directly for a free consultation about your own potential case.

What Are Rubber Bullets?

Rubber bullets are one type of tool that police officers may use to protect the public in some situations. The formal name for rubber bullets is kinetic impact projectiles. While kinetic impact projectiles are often made of rubber, they may also contain wood, plastic, or metal.

These types of weapons are not new. The use of kinetic impact projectiles reportedly dates back to the 1880s. Rubber bullets were used by the police to control crowds during the 1960s Vietnam War protests. Since that time, law enforcement officials have used different types of kinetic impact projectiles to control riots and protestors around the world.

During the summer of 2020, rubber bullets were used by various police departments to control protestors who were out on the streets protesting racially based police brutality and the deaths of people such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Each police department conducts its own training and has its own rules about when rubber bullets should be used. Currently, there are no national standards, nor any requirement that the police department document the use of rubber bullets. Yet, rubber bullets are dangerous and can cause catastrophic injuries.

Rubber Bullet Injuries

The use of rubber bullets is considered a form of non-lethal force. Yet, serious and even deadly injuries may occur from a rubber bullet hit. A National Center for Biotechnology Information study looked at what happened to people hit by kinetic impact projectiles from 1990 to 2017. The study concluded that 71% of all injuries were severe and included 53 deaths and 300 permanent injuries.

Some of the injuries that can occur from rubber bullets and other kinetic impact projectiles include:

  • Large wounds that require stitching and possibly reconstructive surgery
  • Disfigurement
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Abdominal and internal organ injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Eye injuries, including blindness
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

The nonprofit group Physicians for Human Rights has called for a ban on rubber bullets.

What to Do After a Rubber Bullet Injury

The first thing that you should do is get immediate medical attention. Once your physical condition is stabilized, then you should contact an experienced Iowa police brutality attorney. Our lawyers will conduct a full case evaluation and advise you of your legal options.

If the rubber bullet that was shot was a show of excessive force by the police officer, then we can represent you in a police brutality case. We will fight for your fair recovery of past and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages.

At Hupy and Abraham, we believe that everyone deserves excellent legal representation. Cost should not be a factor in your ability to bring a successful police brutality claim. Accordingly, we are pleased to offer you our Win or It’s Free Guarantee. Call us, start a live chat with us, or fill out our online contact form to have us contact you today to learn more.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham