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Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Condition or a Substantial Risk of Harm

Section 242 prohibits a law enforcement officer from acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to persons in custody. Therefore, an officer cannot deliberately ignore a serious medical condition of or risk of serious harm (such as a risk that an inmate will be assaulted by other inmates or officers) to a person in custody.  To prove deliberate indifference, the government must prove that the victim faced a substantial risk of serious harm; that the officer had actual knowledge of the risk of harm; and that the officer failed to take reasonable measures to abate it.

Failure to Intervene

An officer who purposefully allows a fellow officer to violate a victim’s Constitutional rights may be prosecuted for failure to intervene to stop the Constitutional violation. To prosecute such an officer, the government must show that the defendant officer was aware of the Constitutional violation, had an opportunity to intervene, and chose not to do so. This charge is often appropriate for supervisory officers who observe uses of excessive force without stopping them, or who actively encourage uses of excessive force but do not directly participate in them.

Updated July 6, 2020
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