Though the Supreme Court might think otherwise, it has yet to hear a case where a police officer used deadly force to stop a nondangerous fleeing suspect. The Court recently showed its belief to the contrary in Scott v. Harris, where it found that a fleeing suspect posed a sufficient danger to justify the use of deadly force. In order to reach that conclusion, the Scott Court distinguished Tennessee v. Garner, which had held that a police officer could not use deadly force to stop the fleeing suspect. Although the Scott Court never explicitly questioned Garner’sreasoning, the Court’s distinction implicitly demonstrated a fundamental flaw in Garner’s understanding of dangerousness. Scott showed that dangerousness is not confined to a suspect’s potential to commit crimes after escaping; dangerousness is just as great a concern during the escape itself.
Sept 3, 2013
93 Va. L. Rev. Online 145