The Supreme Court has ruled that police can’t be sued by cowardly, fleeing suspects:
“[Harris’] version of events is so utterly discredited by the record that no reasonable jury could have believed him,” Scalia said. “The Court of Appeals should not have relied on such visible fiction; it should have viewed the facts in the light depicted by the videotape.”
The lone dissenter was Justice John Paul Stevens, who made his views known in a rare oral summary during Monday’s public session. He said the other justices got carried away by the tape.
“I can only conclude that my colleagues were unduly frightened by two or three images on the tape,” Stevens noted.
The justice said it was not clear the chase threatened the lives of other citizens since the roads were mostly empty. “The risk inherent in justifying unwarranted police conduct on the basis of unfounded assumptions are unacceptable, particularly when less dramatic measures … could have avoided such a tragic result,” he cautioned.
It was the first time the high court has heard a case involving the use of deadly force in police chases, and federal appeals courts have been split on the issue. Under generally applied Supreme Court precedents, an officer must show a suspect poses a “significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others” before using deadly force.
And other federal courts have said officers can be stripped of qualified immunity from lawsuits if every “reasonable” law enforcement official would have known his actions were violating clearly established law.
Law enforcement groups argued a ruling against Scott would hamstring every police official, who often would have to make split-second decisions about whether to wait until someone gets hurt — including innocent victims or the officer himself — before they could stop escaping motorists.
Sense, sanity, and security have prevailed over the forces of lawlessness and chaos. Justice Stevens remains the most liberal, least rational Justice on the bench, but America continues to pass him by.
This is a victory for America, and a slap in the face of every do-gooder who hates policemen! Combined with the news of Tony Snow’s recovery, today has been an excellent day for patriots throughout this great nation.