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I have written this diary before (2007), and today's more-or-less unanimous Supreme Court decision affirms the principle: When you decide to lead the police on a high-speed chase, they have a lot of leeway in deciding how much force it takes to end it. Including deadly force.

In short: Donald Rickard was pulled over because had a headlight out and a basketball-sized dent in his front windshield. He told the police he wasn't drunk, but when asked to step out of the car he sped off instead, swerving through highway traffic at over 100 mph. Finally off the highway and cornered in a parking lot, Rickard kept on going, bumping the police cars surrounding him. Police fired three shots into his car; he reversed and started getting away again; two officers fired 12 more shots toward Rickard’s car and he lost control and crashed into a building. Rickard and his passenger died from some combination of gunshot wounds and injuries suffered in the crash that ended the chase. Rickard's daughter sued. [Some video of the chase is online here.]

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had found against the officers, that the use of force was unreasonable because "the fleeing vehicle was essentially stopped and surrounded by police officers and police cars although some effort to elude capture was still being made." Moreover, the lower court had found the use of force unreasonable because "the police here fired fifteen shots at close range, all but two of which apparently hit the subjects and twelve of which hit the driver.... when deciding to use lethal force, the police knew there was a passenger in the fleeing vehicle thus doubling the risk of death. The police make much of the fact that they felt they were in personal danger, but the degree to which that was true is not resolved by the video recordings."

Today's Supreme Court reversed that decision. Eight justices found the first three shots to be constitutionally permissible, seven approved the next twelve, and all nine agreed that even if this was excessive force, it wasn't so excessive that you could sue these officers over it. I'll explain more below the fold.

Justice Alito's opinion for the Court focuses on the "reasonableness" standard under the Fourth Amendment -- under the totality of the circumstances, from the perspective of "a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight,” was the force justified?

Eight Justices (not Ginsburg) agreed that the police were reasonable in using deadly force for the first three shots, when Rickard seemed surrounded: "Under the circumstances at the moment when the shots were fired, all that a reasonable police officer could have concluded was that Rickard was intent on resuming his flight and that, if he was allowed to do so, he would once again pose a deadly threat for others on the road."

And seven Justices (not Ginsburg or Breyer) agreed on the next twelve shots:

It stands to reason that, if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended. As petitioners noted below, “if lethal force is justified, officers are taught to keep shooting until the threat is over.”

Here, during the 10-second span when all the shots were fired, Rickard never abandoned his attempt to flee. Indeed, even after all the shots had been fired, he managed to drive away and to continue driving until he crashed.This would be a different case if petitioners had initiated a second round of shots after an initial round had clearly incapacitated Rickard and had ended any threat of continued flight, or if Rickard had clearly given himself up. But that is not what happened.

Finally, all nine Justices agreed that even if this were unconstitutional, it was not clearly unconstitutional at the time that it happened, and under the doctrine of "qualified immunity," you can't sue a state actor for something she had no reason to know was unconstitutional at the time.

The Court also recognizes, in a footnote, that the case would be a little different if the passenger's next-of-kin had sued, and more-or-less invite such a case to be presented in the future: "There seems to be some disagreement among lower courts as to whether a passenger in Allen’s situation can recover under a Fourth Amendment theory. Compare [two cases on each side of the question]. We express no view on this question. We also note that in County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U. S. 833, 836 (1998), the Court held that a passenger killed as a result of a police chase could recover under a substantive due process theory only if the officer had 'a purpose to cause harm unrelated to the legitimate object of arrest.'”

SCOTUSblog has the case documents.

Originally posted to Adam B on Tue May 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sigh (0+ / 0-)

    All cars on the road at this time in their normal service life (Somewhere between 7 and 5 years for most cars) Are capable of being disabled remotely. Why aren't they using it?

  •  It's an easy qualified immunity question (6+ / 0-)

    But what's the constitutional standard going forward?

    Do you feel the case makes it clear?

  •  our legal system is so odd. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BentLiberal

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Tue May 27, 2014 at 12:56:11 PM PDT

  •  Is it somewhat surprising that ... (0+ / 0-)

    the Sixth Circuit was overruled so completely i.e. pretty much unanimously?

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Tue May 27, 2014 at 12:56:14 PM PDT

  •  The Supremes faced a false dichotomy (4+ / 0-)

    "shoot or not shoot". Because that was all that was easily available to the police, perhaps, or all they were trained for.

    The potential for other action to more effectively disable the vehicle doesn't seem to have been on the list. Not even shooting the tires - which is not totally effective but not useless either.

    One thing that occurs to me from the video is that once the police  pointed their guns at the driver, they were almost bound to shoot if he did not completely concede. This could be viewed two ways: the driver brought on his own demise by ignoring this, or the police were too hasty in elevating the confrontation to deadly force. The latter, unfortunately, is rarely perceived because the police seem to regard the threat of deadly force as an easy control mechanism; not a last resort, more a common tool.

    This is not a sig-line.

    by Joffan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 01:11:51 PM PDT

    •  When was the last time you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      METAL TREK

      Shot a moving target at high speed? Guess what, this isn't the movies. Magic just doesn't happen when you pull a trigger.

      http://jasonluthor.jelabeaux.com/

      by DAISHI on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:48:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you realize (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      that shooting a vehicle to stop it only really is an option in video games?

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:52:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was stationary against a wall (0+ / 0-)

        I assume that the police officer who was within touching distance of the car would have managed to hit that target. Unless you have a really low opinion of their abilities?

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:36:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  again your logic only works in a video game (0+ / 0-)

          the officers had seconds if that to act and frankly you're missing the point here. Even aiming at the vehicle doesn't mean it's going to do anything.

          The fact is that the clearest and most assured way to stop a vehicle from moving is to target the driver.

          Stop basing your answers on video game logic.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:54:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The police did not 'elevate the confrontation' (10+ / 0-)

      to deadly force - the driver did. As soon as he took off from the routine traffic stop and started the chase, he put every member of the public in deadly danger throughout the period he was attempting to evade the police. At 100mph you will kill anyone you hit solidly.

      So I see absolutely no problem with the police pointing their weapons at the driver, and he was completely wrong (and idiotic) to not 'completely concede' as you put it.

      The cops have the right to point their weapons at you in certain situations, and this is one of them.

      And when they do, you do not have the right to reject their demand to 'completely concede' to them.

      There are plenty of cases of cops acting badly - this just isn't one of them.

      Cheers.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:59:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on which set of rights one is referring to (0+ / 0-)
        And when they do, you do not have the right to reject their demand to 'completely concede' to them.
        Actually, I'm pretty sure there is a natural right to reject their demand.

        Of course, exercising that right is likely to make it difficult to exercise one's right to a trial by a jury of their peers (although, on the upside, in this case one probably won't be asked to answer questions whose answer may incriminate them - so it saves them the need to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights).

      •  I guess we will agree to differ on that (0+ / 0-)

        In my world, pointing at gun at someone with the deliberate threat to kill them is a higher level of confrontation than driving fast through the streets - which might inadvertently injure or kill someone, but probably will not.

        Of course the police have that right. But it seems to me they had other - better - options in the particular situation we saw here.

        The end result here was two people dead.

        As I was trying to express, I don't think the the cops were acting "badly" - they were following their training and the natural consequences that training took them to. But that training takes them very quickly to the threat of lethal force in response to a wide variety of situations that do not need it.

        And that does perhaps link through to cops behaving badly, I think. Habituation to expecting rapid, fearful capitulation to their demands could lead some people to use that inappropriately.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:56:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  shooting out the tires won't stop a... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, JerryNA

      .... determined criminal who is desperate to escape.

      Go to any video hosting site and put in the keyword "car chase," and you'll see examples of people driving at high speeds on freeways and surface streets, with one or more tires out, and in at least one I've seen, minus the entire wheel.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:04:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes it is not completely effective (0+ / 0-)

        but I think that is mostly when the car is already moving along a road. In the situation in the video where the vehicle was already stopped, I think it would have made the vehicle much less able to manouver out of the police net as it did.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:39:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  assume most voters would agree with this (10+ / 0-)

    USSC decision.  

    •  I agree. (9+ / 0-)

      When a person tries to run someone over with a car to escape the car becomes a deadly weapon. The rules of of engagement for assault with deadly force come into play.

      To be first in the soil, which erupts in the coil, of trees veins and grasses all brought to a boil. -- The Maxx

      by notrouble on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:32:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  here's one voter who does. (24+ / 0-)

      When someone tries to escape from the police by driving at high speed, they have clearly demonstrated that they are a potentially lethal threat to others.

      Further, when they attempt to use their vehicle to attack the police (a small vehicle in motion can destroy a large vehicle at rest), they have clearly demonstrated that they are willing to use force to escape.

      Under those conditions, the use of potentially lethal force by police is justified.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Tue May 27, 2014 at 04:18:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How important is it for police to pursue (4+ / 0-)

        him when he flees?  Under what circumstances should police consider a high-speed chase, with its risks to everyone in the vicinity, to be a priority worth undertaking?

        If the man in the car had just killed some people, still had his guns, and it was thought that he would kill more, then I'd say yes chasing after him and catching him would likely be considered a high priority and a high speed chase would be justified (and worth the risks of the chase)

        But does it make sense for the police to engage in a high speed chase for a man who had a bad taillight and a cracked windshield?  (That's what he was pulled over for).  

        My answer is it probably does NOT make sense to engage in a high speed chase to catch him under those circumstances, considering the risks to the public, the police and the the person who took flight. of a high speed chase -- and due to the very light offense of what was essentially a fix-it ticket.

        They had his license and registration, meaning they already knew who he was. It would have been just as easy to find him later at home or at work, to charge him with the fix-it ticket, and to charge him with evading police.

        Unless he ends up lamming it in Bolivia, it's not going to be that hard to find him later, without a high-speed chase. All the Strum und drang of a high speed chase, the emotions of the officers and the stress placed upon them as well as the danger to the general public are simply not worth it simply for the apprehension of someone whose crime basically required a fix-it ticket.

        Yes, he should have also been charged with evading police when they later found him, which they could easily do.

        "I'm not a number" --84,414

        by BentLiberal on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:12:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What if they thought he was drunk (7+ / 0-)

          And had already hit another car or person, based on the existing damage?

        •  Way too many problems with letting him go (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WillR, TexasTom, arabian, duhban, VClib

          First off, the cops haven't identified the driver, only the car. So when they pull up in front of the owner's house, they're going to get 'I wasn't driving it'. Weak defense, but hard to prove otherwise, right?

          Second, if you let people drive away from a traffic stop, you're letting them decide that the punishment for doing that is less than for whatever crime they are trying to hide. Worst case: the guy buys time to dispose of the body in the trunk.

          Third, the act of driving away from a traffic stop is itself a felony, as far as I know, and if we set up a system in which cops have to watch felons drive away from the scene of the crime, we might as well not have cops.

          That's not to say that every high-speed chase must absolutely be brought to an apprehension, regardless of the threat to the public. Suspects have been allowed to escape when the chase was just too dangerous... I don't have citations, but remember some.

          And in SoCal, we have sort of perfected the 'low-speed chase'.... I had one pass me on Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita - a woman went by in a small white sedan with 2 tires blown, at about 15mph, with at least 10 cop cars following her and making no attempt to ram her or sideswipe her or spin her out. I pulled over and watched the absurd procession slowly proceed down the road out of sight. I wanted to follow but my wife said no.

          Cheers.

          Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

          by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:56:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And that's what I think should have been done in (0+ / 0-)

            this case too. That's what I'm asking. Is it absolutely crucial to engage in a high speed chase every time? It is always worth that risk?

            That's not to say that every high-speed chase must absolutely be brought to an apprehension, regardless of the threat to the public. Suspects have been allowed to escape when the chase was just too dangerous... I don't have citations, but remember some.
            As for the SoCal spectacle you described: as I recall, chases in LA are often covered on the local news live. At least they used to be, don't know if it still happens:
            And in SoCal, we have sort of perfected the 'low-speed chase'.... I had one pass me on Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita - a woman went by in a small white sedan with 2 tires blown, at about 15mph, with at least 10 cop cars following her and making no attempt to ram her or sideswipe her or spin her out.
            Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

            "I'm not a number" --84,414

            by BentLiberal on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:18:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The guy probably didn't run... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical

          ...because he was afraid of the ticket he would get for a bad taillight and cracked windshield.

          If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

          by TexasTom on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:25:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  So if we make it a blanket rule that running is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          duhban

          allowed and police can't chase, then at what point to people even stop at all?

           Or just run as soon as they know it is ticket time?  The cops can't chase me so now they have the power of the mall cop who stop the old man on a scooter "Mall Cop".  (Man, that scene was hilarious, on a side note)

          •  I think there's some interesting discussion (0+ / 0-)

            to be had in answering my original comment and the questions I posed concerning importance. I'd love to hear you comment on that. Didn't care as much for your argument against the statement you created yourself. (pretty much a straw man)

            Didn't see Mall Cop -- is it worth watching? I see it got a 5.2 out of 10 on IMDB

            "I'm not a number" --84,414

            by BentLiberal on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:21:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it's not a straw man (0+ / 0-)

              it's a consequence of your line of thought. That said you also have a point. Police chases are called off all the time too. Generally speaking if the danger to the public is too much then a chase could be terminated however as others have said the police hesitate to do that for a host of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact is that most of the time even when the police back off people fleeing do not drive any less recklessly.

              Der Weg ist das Ziel

              by duhban on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:03:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I can't disagree , but Scotus about Oscar Grant? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, TerryDarc

    I feel bad for the passenger, but man you should have bailed as soon as the car slowed. This driver was a serious danger to himself, the passenger and everyone else.

    I'd like to hear the Supreme's opine on Oscar Grant and all the other ridiculous Police shootings in recent years.

    •  It may seem unwise... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      databob, TexasTom, BentLiberal, The Jester

      ...for a passenger to bail out in this case for fear that it would increase the risk of being shot.

      Probably it's a good idea to bail out, but I think a reasonable person not well versed in police procedure might overestimate the risk of bailing out.

      •  Pretty much a no-win situation for the passenger (4+ / 0-)

        Stay put and risk death.

        Bail out and risk death.

        Serious consequences for an un-wise choice of traveling companion.

        Cheers.

        Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

        by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:20:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Suppose the passenger were a minor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Jester

        Below the age of consent? I can't see how that can be right.

        What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

        by TerryDarc on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:32:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think anybody says shoot the passenger (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          duhban, The Jester, Yonit

          deliberately. In a case like this, it's collateral damage.

          Definitely a no-win situation, and the cops should be aiming at the driver, but I can't see letting him drive away just because he has a passenger in the car.

          Cheers.

          Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

          by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:36:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's the no negotiating with kidnapper (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Jester

            or terrorist dictum,  where victims in those cases are considered merely collateral damage, as you put it.

            Also not sure how you can chalk it up to "un-wise choice of traveling companion."  It's not simply about exercising wisdom. Sometimes it's just about being caught up in a situation beyond your control, that no exercise of wisdom could get you out of, i.e. being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

            "I'm not a number" --84,414

            by BentLiberal on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:02:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Got it - Shit happens (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Jester, Yonit

              and at some point the cops have to weigh the relative value of putting a passenger at risk versus some level of danger to the public as a whole.

              It's a difficult ethical decision that has to be made on-the-fly by adrenaline-charged and angry cops who are only marginally qualified (at best) to consider all of the ramifications of their actions and to make matters worse, those ramifications can only be speculated on, even after the situation is resolved.... unless they let the guy go and he commits further crimes which the cops can be blamed for.

              So sometimes shit happens and innocent bystanders get hurt and that sucks.

              In this case, a presumed innocent bystander (the passenger) got killed, and we'll never know if the driver might have plowed into a crowded school bus stop, killing a dozen kids if the cops let him go.

              Cheers.

              Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

              by databob on Wed May 28, 2014 at 03:54:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yet I think there's moves that can be taken (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                The Jester

                to take it out of their hands, especially if they're only marginally qualifed as you say and untrainable as you imly, and to mitigate the instances of bad things happening.

                It doesn't have to be just this:

                sometimes shit happens and innocent bystanders get hurt and that sucks.
                And in fact, this ...
                the driver might have plowed into a crowded school bus stop, killing a dozen kids if the cops let him go.
                is more likely to happen if the cops are pursuing the civilian than if they don't.

                "I'm not a number" --84,414

                by BentLiberal on Wed May 28, 2014 at 12:09:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Kidnapper?! (0+ / 0-)

              WTF? Who said anything about kidnapping? Suppose the kid is a neighbor or the child of the driver or whomever. That is absolutely not the question.

              What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

              by TerryDarc on Wed May 28, 2014 at 07:18:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  and just as a reminder: if you get pulled over... (31+ / 0-)

    ... signal the lane-change, pull all the way to the right, slow to a stop in a reasonable distance (don't jam on the brakes), and then put the car in Park, set the parking brake, and turn off the motor.  

    Keep in mind that traffic stops have a high risk of injuries and fatalities to officers, and take reasonable steps to keep the situation safe and calm.

    If it's dark out and you can reach for the interior lighting switch without risk of seeming to be reaching for a weapon, turn on the interior lights so the officer can see there is nothing threatening in the vehicle.

    Then roll down the window and put your hands at the top of the steering wheel where they are visible.  Tell any passengers to put their hands in a visible place and not make sudden moves.

    Always ask before reaching for anything:  "May I open the glove box to get my registration?"  The point here is also to avoid making sudden moves that might be mis-interpreted.

    True story:  

    I was once pulled over for doing 26 mph in a 25 zone.  This was puzzling to say the least, but the ensuing conversation was friendly, and I was soon on my way with no ticket.  When I got home I turned on the radio to check the news.  The lead story was about a kidnapper who was using a vehicle that looked like mine.  Bingo.  The police were checking out vehicles of that type to look for a kidnapper with a kid onboard.  

    The moral of the story is, sometimes they're not interested in your driving, they're looking for someone or something that matches your description or your vehicle's description.  Very often the person or thing they're looking for was involved in a violent crime.  

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Tue May 27, 2014 at 04:31:01 PM PDT

    •  We'll said (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldDragon, G2geek, ksuwildkat, duhban, zipn

      You lead police on a high speed chance you're asking for a wood shampoo minimum.

      You best believe it does

      by HangsLeft on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:15:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Although that might be a common police response, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        it is brutality for police to conduct themselves that way upon a subject who is face down (or even face up) on the ground and not resisting.

        We're faced with an amazing lapse of professionalism in our police these days.

        But... oh well. Lead is cheaper than damaging a police car or two by forcefully blocking a car in, so let's shoot suspects and their passengers full of holes.

        "He was using his car as a weapon"
        has been used to justify so many bad police killings. Even when the car was stopped and all the shots came in the back windows.  

        One officer fired upon a driver 40+ times, reloading several times. Killing the driver thoroughly. After the driver stopped.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:23:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Didn't see any of that in the video (5+ / 0-)

          and the description of the chase.

          As far as I'm concerned, if you lead the police on a chase that endangers the public - as this guy did - and they corner you and have their guns pointed at you from short (impossible to miss) range.... well, if you try to get away, with the implied - if not obvious - intent of continuing your potentially deadly auto rampage....

          Bottom line: you flunked that day's Darwin Awards competition, and you get what you deserve.

          Cheers.

          Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

          by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:35:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "impossible to miss" Then why was the (0+ / 0-)

            passenger killed as well?  

            And, while we're discussing, why not use the patrol cars to simply block in the auto so fleeing was impossible?

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:37:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes let's put the innocent at risk (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              Instead of the transgressors.

              http://jasonluthor.jelabeaux.com/

              by DAISHI on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:58:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  because the perp ended up flipping the car... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              arabian, duhban, Yonit

              ... and plowing into a house.  Regardless of police bullets, that's a damn good way to kill a passenger, and kill people in the house.

              The patrol cars were attempting to block him, but he put his car in reverse and backed up quickly to escape, nearly hitting two cops in the process.  

              The law everywhere, is that a driver's negligent or otherwise culpable driving makes the driver responsible for accidents and injuries to passengers and others who are harmed.

              Sometimes a perp isn't a hero.

              Sometimes a perp is just a perp.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:37:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, the last description in my comment was of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy, TerryDarc

            another police chase. My point is that weapons are too often the first resort, rather than every other means being used first.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:38:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe they could come up with (0+ / 0-)

              Some sort of non-lethal, incapacitating gas.

              •  More movie magic (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek, duhban

                You know you can kill someone with gas too right? Wrong quantity is enough to do it. Would you just let anyone had you into unconsciousness? Maybe shoot you with a sleeping dart. You realize anesthesia can kill yeah? How about people just don't go on wild police chases that endanger innocents?

                http://jasonluthor.jelabeaux.com/

                by DAISHI on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:12:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  If you recall the Russians tried that in 2002 (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                duhban, TKO333

                during the Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis.  Even though it involved pumping gas into a building--how do you even imagine it would work in a car?--and was carefully planned, about 1/4 of the hostages were killed and many others permanently disabled.  

            •  I agree with your point (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Be Skeptical, G2geek

              about weapons being too often used as the first resort.

              I didn't see that in this case.

              It's impossible to see in the video - at least to me - whether the cops had an adequate opportunity to tightly seal off the suspect's car. In the absence of evidence they failed to adequately do that, we cannot place blame.

              After all, as far as I know, the only people hurt in this incident were the perpetrator and his passenger.... or accomplice, if you will.

              BTW,she failed her own Darwin award by not bailing out of the car as soon as it slowed down.

              Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

              by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:52:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Link: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stunvegas

              Witnesses to end of chase where Garland officer fired 41 shots say police deleted cellphone photos, video

              After Allen pulled into a driveway at the end of a cul-de-sac in an attempt to make a U-turn, his truck was pinned between two police cars with one of the police cars striking Allen’s truck from the front, said Wallace’s 17-year-old son, Cameron.

              “From the time they yelled, ‘Get out, get out,’ they didn’t give him three seconds to get out,” Mitchell Wallace said, adding that he counted about 20 bullet holes in Allen’s truck.

              ... (after one officer fired 41 shots at car-length range):

              The German shepherd bit Allen in the neck and jaw area and dragged him out of the truck and onto the pavement, Wallace said.

              Police officers pulled the dog off, flipped Allen on his stomach and handcuffed him before checking his pulse. Autopsy results are pending on the cause of Allen’s death.

              Wallace took cellphone pictures and video after the shooting stopped, but he said Mesquite police confiscated the phone and deleted the video and pictures. The phone was returned four days later, he said

              "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

              by YucatanMan on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:56:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I don't mind (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          If cops don't want to put themselves in a position to be sitting in a vehicle that might be hit by another vehicle.

        •  sorry, not relevant. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          duhban

          What if he's face down and not resisting?:  Not in this case he wasn't.  He tried to run over a couple of cops on his way out.

          After that, is when they started shooting.

          What if he was trying to warn the President that the space invaders are landing?

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:32:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I've read people of color say they've been taught (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      (or are teaching their kids) to roll their window down and stick their hands out it, in order to show they have no weapons.

      © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

      by cai on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:32:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't mess with the CHP (6+ / 0-)

      My best friend had just arrived in California for the first time to attend Russian at DLI.  Before that he had pretty much lived in NC his entire life.  So he gets pulled over for speeding and thinking California is just like North Carolina he puts it in park and gets out to walk back to the officer.  Next thing he knows he is spread eagle on very hot California road.  Eventually the cuff him and haul him back to the car and explain the error of his ways.  Couple years later I get pulled over outside of Santa Cruz.  Middle of the day.  "Hands out the WINDOW"  "Open your door from the outside with your right hand" "Place your hands on the roof of the car and do not move" - All for 5mph over the speed limit.  Both my friend and I are lilly white so we were not DWB.  Like the honey badger, CHP don't care.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:48:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't blame them a bit... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, arabian, duhban

        there can't be too many activities as dangerous as pulling a car over and then approaching it.

        As if all the bad things the occupant(s) of the car can do aren't enough..... you have to worry about some moron weaving the wrong way at the wrong time and wiping you out.

        And you're wrong on your final point: the CHP does care.

        They care about keeping you safe.

        And they care almost as much about keeping themselves safe.

        Cheers.

        Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

        by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:04:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds extreme. (0+ / 0-)

        Are you sure there wasn't something else going on that motivated that Santa Cruz response?

        I'm, unfortunately, have some familiarity with being a "customer" of the CHP for routine traffic  violations (mostly speeding - sometimes by a lot, I've never been pulled over for 5MPH over the limit) and have never been treated anything like this.

        Perhaps they were looking for something else - perhaps your car matched a wanted car?

        •  Texas plates (0+ / 0-)

          More likely sending a message to people to slow down.  I got a warning not a ticket but only after having me parked for 30 minutes.  This was just before 4th of July so maybe they were trying to send a no DUI message too.  Worked for me!

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:23:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  in all the departments I know of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobinson

        I would never recommend getting out of your car unless the officer says so.

        Not sure why anyone would think otherwise.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:05:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  G2 - very good advice (0+ / 0-)

      Whenever you are in a situation with law enforcement, in or out of your car, make sure your hands are highly visible, empty and stay put until you let the officer know what you are planning to do and have his permission to move them.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Wed May 28, 2014 at 02:18:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Once you fire the first shot, you have determined (7+ / 0-)

    that you have to kill the actor.   There is no such thing as "excessive deadly force".  That is how police are trained.   I have no problem with this verdict.

    This says it all:

    Here, during the 10-second span when all the shots were fired, Rickard never abandoned his attempt to flee. Indeed, even after all the shots had been fired, he managed to drive away and to continue driving until he crashed.
    They were justified to keep firing until he stopped moving.   It's easy to second guess the cops from behind a keyboard.  See how you feel when someone is trying to run you down with a car.

    If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

    by SpamNunn on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:20:01 PM PDT

    •  Not necessarily kill, but incapacitate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, G2geek

      Once the cops started shooting, they were justified to continue until the car stopped.

      At that point, in the absence of a gun or other deadly implement actively being used by the perpetrator, the cops should stop shooting and assess the situation to determine how best to apprehend the perp.

      The goal in a scenario like this should never be to kill, but to end the danger to the cops and public in the most expeditious and safest manner.

      That doesn't always happen, but it looks like it did in this case.

      Cheers.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 06:45:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Aren't they trained... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arabian

        ...not to fire their firearms until and unless deadly force is necessary and then they are to shoot to kill, not incapacitate?

        It's hard to "incapacitate" reliably (as you know, shooting someone in the knees is impractical). I don't disagree that they should stop firing when the threat is clearly passed and if it happens the perp is still alive, they have no grounds to continue with lethal force. However, honestly, sometimes that means the police officer is not qualified and needs to be put on desk duty until they have improved their shooting skills.

        •  The threat is over when the suspect is down (0+ / 0-)

          and unable to threaten the officer. It has nothing to do with whether the suspect is dead - that takes a coroner to certify, after all.

          Consider a case: Cop- shoots suspect in center of mass - middle of the chest. Suspect falls face-down and drops his gun.

          Does the cop keep firing until he is just darned sure the suspect is dead?

          No, he moves to secure the suspect, then check for vitals. He's going to call for paramedics/ambulance in virtually every case because it's pretty hard to kill someone quickly, especially with one bullet. And the cop isn't want to answer the charge that he failed to call in a medical crew and therefore let the suspect die needlessly.

          No, I'm not talking about shooting the suspect in the knee to incapacitate him. The round should go into center of mass, which in many cases will incapacitate the suspect and making additional rounds.... well.... overkill.

          Cheers.

          Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

          by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:33:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think we are... (0+ / 0-)

            ...disagreeing here.

            The case you give is pretty clear - stop firing.

            Someone in a car is harder to determine -- the fact they are slumped over the steering wheel, for example, is not necessarily enough to know the person is truly incapacitated. The police should start firing with great deliberation, they however should not stop if the target is still a serious risk to themselves or others (just as they shouldn't have started unless that was the case).

      •  They can't stop and hope and assess. They do not (0+ / 0-)

        stop after hitting someone, in the dark, with moving cars, and hope he doesn't have another gun hiding somewhere.

  •  Lesson learned, somewhere over 75 years ago: (3+ / 0-)

    The Police can do anything they want to do, to anyone they want; anywhere they want; any time they want; and get away with it.  That's that. There is no question whatsoever of the "intent" of the person to whom the police choose to do something, including killing him/her.  The police carry a lethal weapon, and wear the badge that licenses them to use it, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances and conditions whatsoever.  And they do use it, totally at their own will and choice.  Period.  Full Stop.  End.

    And, if you don't believe me, read the metro-Denver newspapers on the subject; and do your own count of the dead civilians.

  •  I frankly don't have a problem with this (5+ / 0-)

    Anyone speeding through traffic at 100mph is a huge menace and the police should not be second-guessed on how they deal with it.

    •  That's not always the case.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, stunvegas, duhban

      although in this case they appear to have acted correctly.

      That doesn't necessarily apply to every police chase, and police actions need to come under scrutiny every time they can be, to keep the cops honest.

      I seem to recall a case from last year during the manhunt for the rogue cop - Dorner - in southern California... the cops started blasting away at a pickup truck in the dark early one morning, thinking it was the suspect. Turns out it was a couple of Hispanic women delivering newspapers. The cops fired dozens of bullets into that truck, but never managed to kill either one of them. They didn't even HIT the driver!

      CA Cop shooting incident

      So every incident involving a cop shooting someone needs all the scrutiny it can get.

      Cheers.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:14:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, G2geek, duhban

        Violence always needs to be assessed and measured to keep the users of violence honest. The watchers must always be watched.

        http://jasonluthor.jelabeaux.com/

        by DAISHI on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:17:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think we also need to question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          squalloff

          the worth of engaging in a high speed chase of someone pulled over for a fix-it ticket, which was the situation in the case in the diary.

          Yes, the civilian fled the scene. But is it worth the perils inherent in a high-speed chase to pursue him? Every high speed chase involves a danger to the officers, to the civilian, and to the general public in the vicinity of the chase.

          When is it worth it?  For someone who just killed or injured others and who is still carrying the weapons? I'd wager most people would say yes: The risk of someone getting hurt in the chase is worth taking.

          But is that risk worth taking for the civilian in this case who was pulled over for a fix-it ticket? They already knew who he was; he was pulled over and identified. It would not have taken much effort to track him down later at home or at work and give him the fix-it ticket. And then also charge him with fleeing the scene.  Unless he's lamming it in Bolvia or something, I think in most cases he's easily found.

          So what I'm arguing here is for a re-thinking of the worth and value of the police engaging in a high-speed chase. Because that's what this tragedy all escalated from. A fix-it ticket. And yes, I do blame the civilian for fleeing, but I don't think like some commenters seem to that he therefore deserved his fate of death.

          "I'm not a number" --84,414

          by BentLiberal on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:34:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He chose to die, quite simply. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            duhban

            The video clearly shows the cops standing around the suspect's car aiming their weapons at him from close range, telling him to stop and give up.

            Which part of that situation leaves the suspect with the expectation that if he doesn't obey he will be allowed to drive off?

            Even if I accept your assertion that a driver in a simple traffic stop should be allowed to drive off - and I do not, as I explained in an earlier comment - by the time the shooting started, this was FAR from a simple traffic stop.

            This was just plain Darwin award stuff: the guy gets stopped, drives off, leads cops in a 100mph chase, gets cornered, gets his life threatened, and tries to drive off again.

            At this point, it's looking like suicide by cop, and his girlfriend got to die by his doing as well.

            Cheers.

            Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

            by databob on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:04:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

              When he first drove off, if I understand the timeline correctly, the guns-drawn, surrounded scenario hadn't happened yet.

              when asked to step out of the car he sped off instead ...
              At that point there was no guns-drawn, surrounded situation. If Adam B's account is correct, it only happened much later, after a high-speed freeway chase and then they eventually cornered him in a parking lot. By that point, everyone's adrenaline is raised, and I imagine people start feeling locked in, both the civilian and the police.

              So I agree with you that by that point (after the chase, in the parking lot), it was no longer a simple traffic stop. But it was a simple traffic stop initially.

              I appreciate your thoughtful responses. Thanks.

              "I'm not a number" --84,414

              by BentLiberal on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:54:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I was going to cite this case... (0+ / 0-)

        ...also.

        Upon hearing this case, my first thought was "Stupid Police".

        My second thought was "Thank the FSM they are not competent shots".

        My third thought was "They should be fired for being bad shots if nothing else".

  •  It blows my mind (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, arabian, pnny, Bailey2001, duhban

    How little commenters know about reality of a deadly situation and yet proffer ridiculous fantasy based answers. Shoot out the tires it's easy! Hit the kill switch! Hack the mainframes!

    http://jasonluthor.jelabeaux.com/

    by DAISHI on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:07:55 PM PDT

  •  Let's get a few things straight (0+ / 0-)

    Curb weight on this type of vehicle is between 2100-2300lbs.  Add to adults and now you are talking 2400-2600 lbs.  At 10 miles per hour that can easily kill someone.  That's a force of something like 5000+ newtons.  If you were in that situation, you would probably react defensively and try whatever you had to do in order to make that threat go away.  If you ask a cop, any cop, which is better, a dead cop or a dead suspect, they will say dead suspect every time and understandably so.  

    Could they have brought this to a conclusion without a fatality?  Probably.  Did the driver of the vehicle threaten the lives of the officers in question?  Absolutely.  The cops deserved the acquittal that they got.  But not guilty doesn't mean they were right.  The whole situation is a shit sandwich.  

    There is a time to think and a time to act and this gentlemen, is no time to think! Bud Boomer

    by celtic pride on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:20:44 PM PDT

    •  what would you have had them do? (0+ / 0-)

      the suspect showed  a profoundly reckless disregard to everyone's safety with his actions and more over demonstrated at every opportunity that he was willing to hurt anyone and everyone even kill people to get away.

      The only shit sandwich here is the passenger who was caught between 2 impossible choices.

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:14:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can get behind this (0+ / 0-)

    When you turn a car into a bullet, you take your life into your hands.

  •  Excuses, excuses... (0+ / 0-)

    ... just so you can kill.

    If the officers wanted to take him alive, they could have. Shoot out the tires, fence/ bracket the car/ area with police cars, etc. The officers could think of a way.

    They simply do not want to.

    It seems they wanted otherwise, they wanted to kill. The thrill of the kill, I am told, is unmatchable by anything; sex, meth, bath salts, etc.

    And that's what the officers crave, the thrill of the chase, the catch, the kill.

    And the august lady and gentleman of the courts have allowed further thrill kills to happen.

    •  your words betray your unreasonableness (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, Be Skeptical, VClib

      and video game logic.

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:15:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, yes, it is unreasonable... (0+ / 0-)

        ... to wish to avoid bloodshed.

        Very, very, unreasonable. Uh-huh, yeah, right.

        And of course, you do realize you're basically implying that police officers are unable to think or come up with solutions in the performance of their duties.

        •  here's the sad fact of life (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yonit

          some people are such selfish assholes that they'll hurt anyone to get what they want. That's what the police are for.

          Your CT accusation that the police are always out for a pint of blood is just that CT and border line crazy.

          I imply nothing. It's the officers duty to protect the public. This man endangered the public and the officers did so. Your demand that the officers invoke some hollywood/video game trope is absurd.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Wed May 28, 2014 at 07:59:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  There is an element of truth to your assertion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, Be Skeptical, Yonit

      in that the law enforcement profession attracts people who crave the adrenaline rush and excitement of the danger and the thrill of the kill.

      That's just natural, the same way the law attracts smart people who love to debate, medicine attracts people who want to help others, and politics attracts narcissists..... and basketball attracts people who can dunk one.

      Where I differ with your post is the point where you blame the courts, and even by implication the superiors of these craven officers.

      I see the authorities trying to deal with situations like this, after the fact, in the best way they can.

      And yes, there is an element of 'protecting your own', but to some extent they have to, otherwise who is going to want to be a cop if they know they're going to get hung out to dry as soon as possible?

      The bottom line is that the vast majority of cops are honest, hard-working people, and the court system is doing the best it can, given its immense challenges.

      Cheers.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Wed May 28, 2014 at 04:18:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  3 strikes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yonit

    I have one anecdote, so it is not data. A friend of a friend was pulled over. Dude had 2 strikes and didn't want to go to jail for 25 years so he took off because he was in possession of meth. Massive police chase through a residential neighborhood resulted in his death. Police shot him after he rammed a couple of police cars and other cars. I do not defend this guy's actions. IMHO, the police were somewhat justified.

    I don't think it wold have happened if 25 years weren't hanging over his head.


    Every time my iPhone battery gets down to 47%, I think of Mitt Romney.

    by bobinson on Wed May 28, 2014 at 12:02:01 AM PDT

  •  Swinging my Hammer (0+ / 0-)

    When the only tool you have is a hammer everything begins to look like a nail. Just shoot it.

  •  Coming soon to a city near you.. (0+ / 0-)

    police powers such as those in Solent Green.

  •  I think there's a better answer... (0+ / 0-)

    Get one car close enough to get the plate.  Back off and follow discretely or use a chopper to track the car until it stops, then get him/her.  High speed chases rarely work out for anyone.  You startle a person like that and they won't think, they'll run like a wild animal.  I know hind sight is 20/20, but couldn't a guy call an unmarked to follow at a distance, then have them break off followed by another until they stop?  That would cover a known stolen car and definitely a car registered to the owner/driver/assailant.

  •  Another case of police misusing their tools (0+ / 0-)

    How many of those shots were aimed at the engine of the car?  A '92 Honda has an engine that is mainly cheap metal and one or two good shots into the engine and the car would seize up in a short amount of time.  Instead they aimed at the driver and passenger endangering everyone, including the public at large.  It is time for all those cops to be retrained, if their first instinct is to kill.

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