Thursday, April 9, 2015

Police officer shoots fleeing suspect in the back

Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a police office may not shoot a fleeing suspect in the back.  That doesn't mean it still doesn't happen. 
The video of a South Carolina police officer shooting a black man in the back as he ran away gives victims of police misconduct new ammunition to overturn common assumptions about police brutality, but families of victims and civil rights advocates wonder if it will be enough to spur real change, reported the USA Today.
Police who shoot and kill suspects often escape prosecution because the criminal justice systems places a high value on an officer's word and often accepts their narrative of events, says attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the family of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer last summer. A grand jury declined to indict the officer.
In the most recent incident, North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, 33, who claimed he shot Walter Scott, 50, in self-defense after Scott grabbed his Taser, is facing a murder charge after a video surfaced that disputed his claim.
"They use this narrative all the time," Crump said. " 'I was in fear of my life. I felt threatened. They reached for my weapon.' That's how they justify killing us. Now that it's been exposed with this case, will America challenge it?"
In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court in Garner v. Tennessee held that, under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, he or she may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. 
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