A victory for common sense...


This is the opinion of the US Supreme Court in a case they decided yesterday.

In a nutshell, some chap (Harris) is doing 73 in a 55 zone, and the local constabulary decides to pull him over for speeding. In response to seeing the flashing blue and red lights in his mirror, he instead takes off, starting a pursuit.

About ten miles later, the cops (Scott) finally decide to knock him off the road. The ensuing crash leaves the speeder a quadraplegic. He sues the police, citing excessive use of force and violation of his 4th Ammendment rights.
Police, on the other hand, claim that they knocked him off the road as a matter of public safety, before he ploughed into some family coming home from the cinema or some such.

Both the district court and the court of appeals held that the severity of the crime for which he was being pulled over (speeding) did not warrant the use of potentially lethal force in his capture, and the cops should have either just let him go, or continue on until he stopped on his own, especially given their opinion that really, the chase wasn't all that dangerous.

Supreme court, in an 8-1 reversal decides otherwise. The judgement is easy to read, and vaguely amusing.

Indeed, reading the lower court's opinion, one gets the impression that respondent, rather than fleeing from police, was attempting to pass his driving test:
(The Court website has the full video available as an rmvb (real media) flie, the URL is in a footnote)

It is not our experience that ambulances and fire trucks careen down two-lane roads at 85-plus miles per hour, with an unmarked scout car out in front of them
Second, we are loath to lay down a rule requiring the police to allow fleeing suspects to get away whenever they drive so recklessly that they put other people's lives in danger. It is obvious the perverse incentives such a rule would create: Every fleeing motorist would know that escape is within his grasp, if only he accelerates to 90 miles per hour, crosses the double-yellow line a few times, and runs a few red lights.
From the dissenting judge.
I can only conclude that my colleagues were unduly frightened by two or three images on the tape that looked like bursts of lightning or explosions, but were in fact merely the headlights of vehicles zooming by in the opposite lane. Had they learned to drive when most high-speed driving took place on two-lane roads rather than on superhighways--when split-second judgments about the risk of passing a slow-poke in the face of oncoming traffic were routine--they might well have reacted to the videotape more dispassionately.
Final decision:
In weighing the high likelihood of serious injury or death to respondent that Scott's actions posed against the actual and imminent threat that respondent posed to the lives of others, the Court takes account of the number of lives at risk and the relative culpability of the parties involved. Respondent intentionally placed himself and the public in danger by unlawfully engaging in reckless, high-speed flight; those who might have been harmed had Scott not forced respondent off the road were entirely innocent. The Court concludes that it was reasonable for Scott to take the action he did.
I mean, really. How hard can it be? If you don't like to run the risk of serious injury or death, don't try to escape from cops by driving really quickly on public roads.

Now that does seem like a sensible decision for once.

PC Bde bugger off.
Compare this with the recent decision of one of our police forces not to pursue/follow someone on a stolen motorbike if the rider isn't wearing a helmet.

It's good to know that somewhere at least there are judges willing to apply common sense.
So the assclown isn't able to repeat his offence thanks to the measures taken by the police... sounds like a proper outcome to me. Just glad it was only the suspect who was injured, far too often such individuals kill decent folks and walk away with nary a scratch.
How on earth could the lower court think that? If it weren't for the invention of the police, they could have had more quadraplegics in front of them to watch the man who cause their injuries go to jail. Agree with the sarcasm in the last judge's summing up, deserves it.
Idiots, I wouldn't have thought that I'd hear such crap decision from a US court.

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