Visitor Question

Assaulted by 2 off duty police officers…

Submitted By: Miguel (Los Angeles, California)

I was assaulted by 2 off-duty police officers outside a bar. During their assault, they were flashing their badges and identifying themselves as police officers to people around the scene. I was injured very badly.

I read on this website that in order to file a lawsuit against a police officer or government employee, the employee must have been on duty and in official capacity at the time of the offense. What if the officers were off duty at the time? Do I have any type of civil case against the department the officers work for, or against the officers personally?

Any perspective you can give here would be very helpful. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Miguel,

Police officers are empowered to enforce the law 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As long as a police officer identifies himself or herself as a police officer, a citizen must obey the officer’s commands. Failure to do so subjects the citizen to arrest and incarceration.

The term “on duty” simply refers to a police officer’s assigned duties during his or her shift. When they aren’t on duty, it only means they aren’t assigned to a specific shift, but nonetheless are still active police officers.

If you feel the police officers displayed gross negligence, criminal negligence, or a wonton disregard for your safety and well-being, you may have the basis of a government tort injury claim.

Unfortunately for you, unless there is evidence supporting the above allegations, the police officers will be protected by sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity means government entities and their employees can’t be sued unless their conduct is criminal or grossly negligent, and not within the scope of their normal duties (as police officers).

You will have to decide if there was any legitimate reason for the officers to assault you. You can be confident if you were drinking alcohol that night, even in the smaller amount, you will have a difficult time pursuing an injury claim against the officers. You will also need evidence to bring a case. Regardless, you will need an attorney.

Learn more here: Can You Sue the Government for Injury?

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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