U.S Supreme Court Case on Police Misconduct

Assignment Instructions

A police officer’s job is about ensuring the protection of basic moral rights, including the right to life, liberty, physical and property security. The overall outcome or goal of policing is the protection of constitutional rights. However, there have been times when police have engaged in unethical and immoral practices when doing their job which have resulted in important U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

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Research and find a U.S. Supreme Court case that addresses unethical police decisions or immoral practices by the police. Provide a brief synopsis of the case and discuss how the Supreme Court views procedural justice and/or police misconduct.

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Write a 2-3 page, APA style paper addressing the issues as described above. Please include 2-3 references. Only one reference may be from an internet source (not Wikipedia) the other references must be located in the Grantham University Online Library. Only the body of the paper will count toward the page requirement. Include a title sheet. Please see the rubric below.

Tennessee v. Garner U.S. Supreme Court Case on Police Misconduct


            America is the most sensitive society to any form of totalitarianism and government that employs coercive power (Munster, 1992). The government can express power in many forms and one most notable way is the use of police to restrain law and order among its citizens. Although the exercise of political power through the police is generally a morally right obligation by any government, if it is not managed well, it can constitute an abuse of power. The Tennessee vs. Garner case was a landmark case rule by the Supreme Court that greatly impacted on the circumstances under which police officers may use deadly force in arrested fleeing felons.

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            Garner was a 15-year old boy who was shot by Hymon, while scaling a fence in order to escape a burglary arrest from two Memphis officers on the night of October 3, 1974 (Tennenbaum, 1994).  Hymon was convinced that if Garner made it over the fence, he would escape and he shot him at the back of the head. The police officer shot at Garner despite having a clear sight that he neither posed threat to him nor others.

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The state of Tennessee had statute laws, which governed the fleeing felons, just like many other U.S states at the time. However, owing to the death of his son, the deceased father filed a petition in the Federal District Court, seeking compensation for what he termed as the violation of the constitutional rights of his son. Although the Federal District Court ruled that the officers acted within the states laws, the Supreme Court ruling held that a fleeing-felon rule was unconstitutional under the fourth amendment.

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How the Supreme Court Views Procedural Justice and/or Police Misconduct

            The Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee vs. Garner, 1985, severely impacted on the circumstances under which a police officer may use deadly forcing in arresting a suspect (Tennenbaum, 1994). The Fourth Amendment considered that the use of deadly force was a legally considered seizure, which must be considerable. Therefore Supreme Court observed that the use of deadly force would apply only if the suspect posed a threat to the life of the officers and others or caused serious physical injury to the apprehending officers or others. The use of deadly force in the Garner case was unethical and unjust given that Garner was unarmed and possessed no weapon to warrant any shooting. Moreover, the arresting officer had a clear sight on Garner, since he used his spotlight to achieve a clear vision of the hands of the felon.

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            The fleeing felon rule demands that deadly force be employed as a last resort on a fleeing felon regardless of the severity of the alleged offence (Crowley, 1989). The court considered that the intrusion of a police officer had to be considered based on the risks that such an intrusion posed on the suspect. Therefore, the Supreme Court determined that the common statute laws that governed fleeing-felon suspects were unconstitutional.

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The Supreme Court ruling on the Tennessee v. Garner has had a huge impact on the use of deadly force by police officers in various U.S states (Crowley, 1989). Although a majority of the states have not amended their state laws governing fleeing felon suspects, the use of deadly force by the police officers in the various U.S states give due consideration of the Fourth Amendment.

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