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NCJ Number: NCJ 211323     Find in a Library
Title: When is Force Excessive?: Insightful Guidance From The U.S. Supreme Court
  Document URL: HTML PDF 
Author(s): Thomas D. Petrowski J.D.
  Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:74  Issue:9  Dated:September 2005  Pages:27 to 32
Date Published: 09/2005
Page Count: 6
  Annotation: This article reviews the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brosseau v. Haugen (December 2004), which refines the trilogy of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that define when law enforcement officers are civilly liable for uses of force.
Abstract: The trilogy of cases consists of Tennessee v. Garner (1985), Graham v. Connor (1989), and Saucier v. Katz (2001). "Garner" and "Graham" established the general approach to defining constitutional constraints on law enforcement's use of force, stating that such force constitutes a seizure under the fourth amendment and is to be objectively evaluated for reasonableness. The "Katz" decision impacted the way courts analyze civil rights lawsuits brought under Title 42, Section 1983 of the U.S. Code. After the "Katz" decision, there were numerous cases that evaluated whether police uses of force fell in the "hazy border" between the clearly excessive and the clearly constitutional as defined in "Katz." "Brosseau" was the U.S. Supreme Court's vehicle for addressing this issue. The case before the Court was an appeal by Brosseau to the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to deny her summary judgment in the lawsuit brought against her by Kenneth Haugen, who was wounded by Brosseau when he sought to flee from her execution of an arrest warrant for drug and other nonviolent offenses. The Court held that although Brosseau's use of force was constitutionally questionable, it was in the "sometimes hazy border between excessive and acceptable force;" therefore, she was entitled to qualified immunity. This finding indicates that if an officer's use of force is not overtly excessive and unreasonable, then qualified immunity must be granted the officer against civil liability for the action. 27 notes
Main Term(s): Police use of deadly force
Index Term(s): Police legal limitations ; Civil liability ; Legal liability ; US Supreme Court decisions ; Police legal training
Publisher URL: 
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Country: United States of America
Language: English
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