Tennessee v Garner case brief

here you will see the Tennessee v Garner case brief.

Tennessee v Garner case prohibits law enforces from using excessive force in pursuing fleeing suspects because it violates the Fourth Amendment to U.S Constitution. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Unless the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect poses a huge threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer,  the officer may not use excessive force to prevent the escape.

Here I will share with you the Tennessee v Garner case brief to help you understand everything you need to know about the Tennessee v Garner case in a simple and accurate way.

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Tennessee v Garner case brief

Tennessee v. Garner – 471 U.S. 1, 105 S. Ct. 1694 (1985)

Decided on March 27, 1985

by

JUSTICE BYRON R. WHITE, Supreme Court of the United States

Parties

Tennessee, Appellant and  Edward Garner, et al. Appelee.

Procedure

The Appellee’s father sued Appellant in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

The District Court decided against his favor.

He appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which reversed the decision of the District court.

Tennessee appealed to the Supreme Court which affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Facts

Two Police went to stop the burglary. At the scene of the crime one police saw a suspect, an unarmed young boy, Edward Garner, who was about to flee over the face.

He ordered the suspect to stop, but the Boy keep climbing the fence. The police shot the boy, the boy died.

The officers used deadly force against a fleeing criminal in accordance with a Tennessee state statute and official Memphis Police Department policy.

The statute provided that “if, after notice of the intention to arrest the defendant, he either flee or forcibly resist, the officer may use all the necessary means to effect the arrest.”

The Respondent’s father sued the City of Memphis, its mayor, the Memphis Police Department, its director, and the Officer and the Police who shot his son in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

The District Court decided against his favor, it found the statute and the police killing to be valid.

He appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which reversed the decision of the District court.

The appeal court found that For the purposes of the Fourth Amendment, the killing of a fleeing suspect constitutes a “seizure,” and is thus allowed only when it is reasonable.  Further, the Tennessee statute failed to properly limit the use of deadly force by reference to the seriousness of the felony.

Tennessee appealed to the Supreme Court.

Issue

whether the law enforcers officers can use excessive force against unarmed suspects

Rule

In reaching its decision the court applied the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Reasoning

When applying the law to the facts, the court reasoned that The use of deadly force to keep all felony suspects from fleeing is unconstitutional under any circumstances.

It is not preferable for all crime suspects to die than for them to flee.

The harm caused by failing to apprehend the criminal when he poses no imminent threat to the police or others does not warrant the use of deadly force to accomplish so.

But it is not constitutionally unreasonable for an officer to use deadly force to keep a suspect from fleeing if the officer has probable grounds to think that the suspect poses a significant bodily harm threat to a fellow officer or others.

Holding

No, the police may not use excessive force to prevent the suspect’s escape unless the officer has reasonable reasons to think that the suspect poses a significant risk of death or serious bodily injury to the officer.

Judgment

Judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed.

Dissenting Opinion

Justice O’Connor joined by  Justice Burger and Rehnquist dissented.

Justice O’Connor opined that  While on patrol, police officers are frequently forced to make quick, on-the-spot choices, and it has been argued that domestic robbery and violence are tied to the already serious crime of burglary.

The Tennessee act reflects the state legislature’s belief that such offenses may necessitate the use of deadly force to protect the public from perpetrators.

Read the full opinion here

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Isack Kimaro
Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of sherianajamii.com. Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion