Supreme Court rules for police in fatal car chase News
Supreme Court rules for police in fatal car chase

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday in Plumhoff v. Rickard that police officers who fatally shot a driver to end a dangerous car chase did not violate the Fourth Amendment [text]. The case was brought on appeal by six officers who claimed they were entitled to qualified immunity [Cornell LII backgrounder] in a civil lawsuit filed by the daughter of a man killed when he lost control of his vehicle after being shot by police officers following a high-speed pursuit along the border of Arkansas and Tennessee. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied qualified immunity, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito:

Under the circumstances present in this case, we hold that the Fourth Amendment did not prohibit petitioners from using the deadly force that they employed to terminate the dangerous car chase that Rickard precipitated. In the alternative, we note that petitioners are entitled to qualified immunity for the conduct.

JURIST Guest Columnist Christopher Wimmer, founder of Emergent Legal [firm website], discussed this case in a recent op-ed [text].

Plumhoff v. Rickard is closely related to the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Scott v. Harris [text]. In this case, the court held [JURIST report] that police did not use excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they rammed a car during a high-speed pursuit in order to stop a suspect who, as a result of the incident, was rendered quadriplegic.