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This case requires us to determine the constitutionality of the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of an apparently unarmed suspected felon. We conclude that such force may not be used unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and 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.
I At about While Wright radioed the dispatcher to say that they were on the scene, Hymon went behind the house. He heard a door slam and saw someone run across the backyard. The fleeing suspect, who was appellee-respondent's decedent, Edward Garner, stopped at a 6-feet-high chain link fence at the edge of the yard.
With the aid of a flashlight, Hymon was able to see Garner's face and hands. He saw no sign of a weapon, and, though not certain, was "reasonably sure" and "figured" that Garner was unarmed. He thought Garner was 17 or 18 years old and  about 5' 5" or 5' 7" tall.
Garner then began to climb over the fence. Convinced that, if Garner made it over the fence, he would elude capture, [ Footnote 3 ] Hymon shot him. The bullet hit Garner in the back of the head.
Garner was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died on the operating table. Ten dollars and a purse taken from the house were found on his body.
The statute provides that "[i]f, 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 incident was reviewed by the Memphis Police Firearm's Review Board and presented to a grand jury.
Neither took any action. Garner's father then brought this action in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, seeking damages under 42 U. After a 3-day bench trial, the District Court entered judgment for all defendants. It dismissed the claims against the Mayor and the Director for lack of evidence.
It then concluded that Hymon's actions were authorized by the Tennessee statute, which in turn was constitutional.
Hymon had employed the only reasonable and practicable means of preventing Garner's escape. Garner had "recklessly and heedlessly attempted to vault over the fence to escape, thereby assuming the risk of being fired upon. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed with regard to Hymon, finding that he had acted in good faith reliance on the Tennessee statute, and was therefore within the scope of his qualified immunity.
It remanded for reconsideration of the possible liability of the city, however, in light of Monell v. New York City Dept.
The District Court was  directed to consider whether a city enjoyed a qualified immunity, whether the use of deadly force and hollow point bullets in these circumstances was constitutional, and whether any unconstitutional municipal conduct flowed from a "policy or custom" as required for liability under Monell.
The District Court concluded that Monell did not affect its decision. While acknowledging some doubt as to the possible immunity of the city, it found that the statute, and Hymon's actions, were constitutional.
Given this conclusion, it declined to consider the "policy or custom" question. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. It reasoned that the killing of a fleeing suspect is a "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, [ Footnote 6 ] and is therefore constitutional only if "reasonable.
Officers cannot resort to deadly force unless they "have probable cause. The city filed a petition for certiorari.Clive Robinson • July 1, PM @Bruce. The LoJack is a bad example to pick, a more likley explanation, like that for CCTVs is that the persons stealing the cars have not yet evolved an effective counter measure.
Sec. 53a Felony: Definition, classification, designation. (a) An offense for which a person may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year is a felony.
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