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Old 02-27-2007, 02:34 PM   #1
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Default Supreme Court weighs police action in 100 mph chase

Supreme Court weighs police action in 100 mph chase

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/02/26/po...ses/index.html
(Video Available @ Link)



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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reality-TV invaded the Supreme Court Monday, where a majority of justices seemed to support the actions of a deputy sheriff involved in a high-speed car chase and crash, caught on tape, that permanently injured a fleeing suspect.

At issue is whether Deputy Timothy Scott used "unreasonable" deadly force when he purposely drove his police cruiser into the back of Victor Harris' car in an effort to stop the vehicle. Harris become a quadriplegic as a result of the accident.

Scott's dashboard camera videotaped the six-minute chase

Harris, 19 at the time and driving on a suspended license, was never charged with a felony in the case, and his attorney claimed traffic citations were delivered to the young man while he was still in the hospital.

Neither he nor Harris agreed to be interviewed.

This is the first time the high court has heard a case involving police chases, and lower federal appeals courts have been split on the issue.

Eight of the nine justices admitted they had seen the tape of the chase before the oral arguments, and they seemed fascinated by it, debating it for an hour. Most appeared sympathetic to Scott's claim he was confronted by a fleeing motorist who refused to stop.

Harris "created a tremendous risk (for) drivers on that road," said Justice Samuel Alito.

"He created the scariest chase I ever saw since 'The French Connection,'" said Justice Antonin Scalia, likening it to the 1971 movie noted for its wild pursuit sequence.

"The question was whether he was creating a substantial risk" to other drivers, added Justice David Souter. "How could a jury find otherwise?"

But while the justices might back Scott's actions, the high court may be forced to conclude a jury could see things differently.

A legal sticking point is whether the law was sufficiently clear at the time of the 2001 incident, so that Scott should have known his actions were in obvious violation of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, when he rammed the vehicle.

The justices might throw the case back to the lower courts and let them decide, thereby sidestepping the broader constitutional questions. The lawsuit was put on hold while such questions were appealed.

The facts of the case presented stark legal differences over how force should be applied in a broader context of police pursuits.

The police video shows Harris speeding more than 100 miles an hour, leading officers across two counties. At times he crosses the double yellow line on the road to pass about 36 cars.

At one point, Harris pulls into a shopping center parking lot, with Scott and two deputies trying to block him. Harris then hits Scott's vehicle while fleeing. The officer radios his supervisor requesting permission to use potentially deadly force to stop Harris.

"Let me have him, my car's already tore up," he says on the tape.

"Go ahead and take him out," orders the supervisor.

But Scott later stated Harris was going too fast and he was worried about other drivers on the road, so the officer rammed the escaping Buick directly with his push bumper, causing it to go airborne down an embankment and crash.

"If Scott had stopped the pursuit at that point (in the parking lot), maybe he would have slowed down," suggested Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Studies introduced by Harris' lawyers have shown a majority of speeding drivers would do just that. "If the police weren't after him, there is no indication that he would have been (continuing) speeding."

"Well, he was speeding before police knew about him, right?" asked Chief Justice John Roberts. "That's where this all started."

"At any time, Mr. Harris could have either slowed down his vehicle or stopped, and he chose not to do that," said Philip Savrin, Scott's attorney.

But Souter wondered whether ramming a car at 90 miles an hour was justified. "How could such a belief be reasonable?"

Harris had testified he was scared when officers first turned on their sirens, and did not want his car impounded.
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Old 02-27-2007, 05:05 PM   #2
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Yes, this is excessive force. The officer should be punished.
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:20 PM   #3
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i bet you wouldnt think that if that idiot kid would have hurt some one you care about.

its real easy to stop, by running you only make things worse. this kid was gonna do whatever he could to get away, he already rammed the police cruisers....
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:23 PM   #4
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The officer did not use excessive force. You think 90mph on the freeway is safe? What if he ran over someone and killed them. Would he get off free because the cop "made" him run? I don't think so. The guy deserves to be paralyzed. As much as I hate cops, I don't side with the criminal. All he had to do is pull over. Now tell me his brakes went out and the gas pedal got stuck then its a different story. But I dont think that happened.
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBelcher00 View Post
Yes, this is excessive force. The officer should be punished.
how can you say that?!! the guy was going over double yellow lines and passed a total of 36 cars!! im sorry but that deserves "excessive force". how would you feel if it was YOUR family in a car he passed OR one he could have potentially hit if the officer didnt stop him when he did??? like the officer said, if he had stopped in the parking lot, it all would have ended there. he decided to flee again, and in doing so he assualted a police officer(when he ran into the cops car in the parking lot). the cop was perfectly justified in hitting the guy.
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:48 PM   #6
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While I'm not siding with the police department, I don't think its an issue of excessive force at all. I do agree that it was risky for the officers and the other drivers on the road to continue the chase, but why would anyone side with the criminal? So its ok for him to endanger peoples lives to speed to get away but not ok for them to attempt to catch him? Give it a break already, the cops have enough hassle as it is with all the bs they have to go through trying to apprehend criminals. This is just another case of darwinism in action, it won't ever end. I guarandamntee that retard won't be driving like an ass anymore. "I was scared of the police" yeah, right. Get real, do you really think any criminal is "scared" of the police? If they were, they'd respect the law.


(maybe the police could get some fast and furious car tazers! )
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Old 02-27-2007, 07:30 PM   #7
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risk vs. benefit is a tough enough decision when you're not involved in a high-speed chase. My first instinct is to side with the officers here, the guy was speeding before the pursuit and passed a total of 36 (?) cars, crossing double yellows, etc. I wouldn't want to be judging this or on the jury, this will be a tough one for sure. I don't however, see how they couldn't have used old motorola to get a spike trip or something going, at least trying something else before ramming him.
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Old 02-27-2007, 07:37 PM   #8
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enh i would have used a rpg on him.
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:01 PM   #9
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Excessive force? What other reasonable options were there?

People say "oh all this over a traffic infraction." That's playing Monday Night Quarterback. What kind of retard runs on only a traffic infraction? Wouldn't you reasonably believe he had a warrant or something?

Not to mention, eluding is a felony in most states....

How can that terd sue and expect to win? Had he not ran, he'd be fine.
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:38 PM   #10
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...or if they had tried any, any other option before the ramming. Spike strip, roadblock (which would have been smashed through, no doubt), then folks might see it different. Seriously, I don't remember any details, but this makes me think of the Mustang that kept shaking the cops with 360's when bumped. They t-boned him hard and nobody squawked. Granted he didn't sustain the injuries that this guy did, but sorry pal, YOU BROKE THE LAW AND EVADED ARREST WHILE PUTTING BYSTADERS IN DANGER, YOU'RE LUCKY YOU'RE NOT DEAD!!!!!!
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Old 02-27-2007, 10:56 PM   #11
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Did everyone fail to read the easiest evidence. The guy had a suspended license. He shouldn't have been driving. He did, and he got hurt. Case closed. I'd be very surprised if he wins. Lawyers suck.
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Old 02-27-2007, 11:44 PM   #12
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They should just shoot the people after chases like this. I'm glad that dumbass is paralized now.
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:08 AM   #13
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There is no reason to run from the cops. People can't just arbitrarily decide when they want to follow the laws of society. Doesn't make much of a society when they do.

Peace,

Greg
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:01 AM   #14
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Did anyone read about the 147 MPH Sonata case in the new Car and Driver? Can you believe friggin Hyundai's can go 147 mph?

Last edited by Corkfish; 02-28-2007 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBelcher00 View Post
Yes, this is excessive force. The officer should be punished.
The kid didnt have a valid DL, he was driving recklessly, putting the lives of everyone around him in danger.....if the kid walked down the street waving a loaded weapon around and the cops shot him, it would be the same thing. Doing 90mph in a car that weighs over 3000 lbs isint any different than that. A car is just as much of a weapon as a gun.

What are the police supposed to do? Let every criminal that runs away go?
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:10 AM   #16
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I consider driving a 100 MPH to evade the police to be the equivalent of waving a loaded weapon around a crowded mall. The police had an opportunity to end the situation, without putting me at risk.

Frankly, whether or not the kid would have continued running is a hypothetical, and not something that can be judged.

I say the put a wheelboot on this motorized chair.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:23 AM   #17
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I think the officer in this case did what he was supposed to do - requested permission from a superior - he gave the situation some thought. I do think some police DO have an ego problem with not being able to difuse the situation by stopping the chase. In Los Angeles they will stop chases - remember the case of the guy being chased who ran over a group of school kids with his van as he was being chased on residential streets? I sure do!

Then there was the widely shown video of the guy who was being chased, pulled into a gas station, and as he did, a second cop car rammed him from the side and the cop car ran over a gas pump as he did it - flames poured out and a group of young girls at a ballet school next door were endangered and had to scurry out past the flames - the narrator kept talking about how the perp endangered the kids with the fire - the cop caused it.

Anyway - I think this officer did what he was supposed to do, and used his judgement. I wasn't there. Maybe the area was safe to try to spin him out , and maybe he was heading into another heavily populated area.
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Old 02-28-2007, 10:03 AM   #18
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I absolutely hate all this protect the criminals bull****. He was doing something that was against the law and it backfired and he's paralyzed. We can't constantly be looking out for people who insist on breaking laws and endangering others.

This is the same as the case where a guy broke into someones house and fell on a knife and sued the owner of the house.

I say if people are in the act of breaking a law, and they get hurt as a direct result of thier breaking the law, so be it.
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Old 02-28-2007, 11:31 AM   #19
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I'm on the side of the police. If you drive 100+ mph fleeing from the cops then you might get hurt. It's a risk the CRIMINAL CHOSE.

He should face an extra punishment for bringing this stupid lawsuit against the cops.
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Old 02-28-2007, 11:44 AM   #20
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I can understand where a lot of you guys are coming from, now I'm not siding with the criminal but I am wondering about what options the police took before hand.

As someone said before hand, why didn't they use spike strips? Road blocks? Shoot out the tires?

I want more info on the case, raming and side swipping are effective but performing those once you start hitting the triple digits just seems like asking for trouble.

I'm thinking of it like this, lets say this guy in a Mall is waving a knife or gun, just waving. Do you beat him with a stick? tase him? Shoot him in the leg? The chest? The head? Hopefully you understand what I'm saying, I would think ramming at that speeds is the last option to take.
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Old 02-28-2007, 11:53 AM   #21
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All of those can be just as dangerous at speed, require time, resource, and can only be setup where you think the driver will be. I'm ignoring the "shooting out tire" option, as that's really more dangerous to everyone and pretty much relegated to hollywood these days.

If someone is in a mall with a gun, waving it around, you do what you can. But eventually, when the someone starts pointing a gun a people they are going to get shot.

They did try to trap him in numerous times. Almost got him once, and he hit another car trying to get out.
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:00 PM   #22
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If the driver didn't speed off to avoid the cop, none of this would've happened. Fleeing to avoid getting your car impounded is a small price to pay compared to the state he's in now. Isn't ramming your vehicle against a cop car an assault with a deadly weapon?
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:19 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scott_gunn View Post
I'm on the side of the police. If you drive 100+ mph fleeing from the cops then you might get hurt. It's a risk the CRIMINAL CHOSE.

He should face an extra punishment for bringing this stupid lawsuit against the cops.
+1
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:28 PM   #24
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if your going to be a jerk and endanger lives by fleeing police, don't cry like a stupid ***** if you get hurt when they stop you. I think the best endings are when the moron dies but no one else gets hurt. I've watched a lot of cop chase videos... those guys can hurt many innocent people and its up to the cops to try and stop them. I'm glad they did. The cops did right in this one.
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Old 02-28-2007, 12:31 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigElm View Post
If the driver didn't speed off to avoid the cop, none of this would've happened. Fleeing to avoid getting your car impounded is a small price to pay compared to the state he's in now. Isn't ramming your vehicle against a cop car an assault with a deadly weapon?
Yes. And I think it depends what state you're in and such, but in most cases, they'll slap you with multiple charges (mainly to ensure at least one sticks in court). So for ramming a cop car they'll hit you with wreckless driving, assaulting a police officer, and even attempted murder and such.
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