Unit 5 – Essay- Bill of Rights
Instructor - Professor James Guffey
Essay – Bill of Rights
“Tennessee v. Garner; a case in which the Supreme Court held that under the Fourth Amendment (guard against unreasonable searches and seizures), when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, he or she may use deadly force only to prevent escape if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
In this case, a citizen brought a lawsuit against the City of Memphis, Memphis P.D., and several other individuals, alleging that the officers involved in a shooting of his son had violated his son’s constitutional rights. The officer, Officer Hymon, shot Edward Garner, even though he was reasonably sure the suspect was unarmed. The case was originally dismissed from the District Court when the District Court found that the officers actions were authorized by a Tennessee statute allowing police to use all necessary means to effect an arrest if the suspect fled or forcibly resisted after being notified he or she was being arrested. The case then progressed to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, who reversed the ruling, saying that the statute violated the Fourth Amendment. On review, the Supreme Court affirmed, stating that the Fourth Amendment prohibits using deadly force to prevent escape unless there is probable cause to believe the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm. This is a landmark case because it limits the amount of force a police officer can use to “bring in a suspect”, and protects the suspects constitutional rights, as well as their life.
There are some legal and law enforcement ramifications of this court finding, as it now makes it much more difficult for a police officer, when attempting to stop a fleeing suspect, to determine if that suspect presents a danger to others. The...