Let's see if I have this right...
Police take off after a black Caddy doing 73mph in a 55mph zone, which leads
to a high speed pursuit in the black Georgia night. The 19 year old yahoo
behind the wheel of the Caddy is obviously of no mind to pull over. After
almost 8 minutes of the chase through light traffic, one police cruiser
bumps the Caddy from behind, at which point yahoo loses control of the car
and careens off the road into (what appears to be) a telephone pole.
Bottom line, the yahoo (who, originally, was guilty of driving at 18mph over
the posted speed limit) is now a quadraplegic.
Yahoo sues the police officer who "caused the crash" under the terms of the
4th Amendment (some weird logic about unlawful seizure?).
"In this case, both a lower court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th
Circuit ruled in favor of [the yahoo]. The 11th Circuit said that [the
officer's] actions constituted deadly force and that it was unreasonable
because the officer had no reason to think [yahoo] had done anything more
than violate traffic laws. The police gave chase because they clocked him
going 73 mph in a 55-mph zone.
'Far from being the cautious and controlled driver the lower court depicts,
what we see on the video more closely resembles a Hollywood-style car chase
of the most frightening sort, placing police officers and innocent
bystanders alike at great risk of serious injury,' wrote Justice Antonin
Scalia was incredulous that the lower courts had said Harris's case against
Scott could proceed."
(source: , among others)
Now, I've viewed the video posted on the Supreme Court's website, and I have
to say, "What the $*^&$# was that yahoo thinking?!?" The video is about 92MB
and runs some 15+ minutes, showing what the onboard cameras of the police
cruisers saw that night. First, you see the Caddy from the lead pursuit
cruiser, then you get the same chase as seen from a second cruiser, the one
which ultimately knocks the Caddy into the woods.
Watching the California Patrol in hot pursuit after a white Bronco doing
20mph for hours on end is one thing, but the chase in this video is typical
of the ones being debated over recent years. At what point do the police
engage in pursuit, and when do they just let the evil-doer go, hoping to
pick him up later.
The original crime here was not armed robbery or carjacking or leaving the
scene of an accident, it was doing 73mph in a 55 zone. (Remember: I've said
before that 72 is the magic number.) I have no idea why yahoo decided to try
to escape, rather than simply pull over and accept the damn ticket.
When the police officer is chasing down a speeder with siren and lights on,
and the speeder just keeps on going, putting any number of other motorists
in danger, the police officer can now use deadly force (i.e.: his front
bumper) with a little more authority, thanks to today's Supreme Court
I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that yahoo compounded his possible
speeding ticket with resisting arrest (always a good generic criminal
activity, when everything else fails). But then leading the police on an
8-minute chase around any number of other motorists (most of whom had the
good sense to pull over to the side of the road) has to be a serious crime.
The potential for disaster is all over that video.
I would have dismissed this case from the start.
- posted 13 years ago