Rediscovering Dangerousness: The Expanded Scope of Reasonable Deadly Force After Scott v. Harris

Volume 93

93 Va. L. Rev. Online 145
Download PDF

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.

Click on a link below to access the full text of this article. These are third-party content providers and may require a separate subscription for access.