Supreme Court Grants Case Regarding Use of Force in Police Chases

On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Plumhoff v. RickardScotusblog reports that the Court will “try to clarify further when police act unconstitutionally by pursuing a suspect in a high-speed chase that results in death or injury.”

In July of 2004, Donald Rickard was pulled over by a West Memphis, Arkansas police officer.  When the officer asked Rickard to step out of the car, Rickard sped off, leading police on a high speed chase into Tennessee.  The pursuing officers fired shots at the vehicle, killing Rickard and his passenger, Kelly Allen.

The police involved in the incident were sued by Rickard’s minor daughter for excessive force.  The officers claimed qualified immunity, but the federal court and Sixth Circuit rejected the claim.

This case is a sequel to the 2007 Scott v. Harris ruling.  In that case, the Court ruled that police did not use unconstitutionally excessive force when they rammed a car during a high speed chase, crippling the fleeing motorist.


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