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Summary of the Opinions in Scott v. Harris
Here's a run-down of the opinions in Scott v. Harris, the high-speed car chase case handed down by the Supreme Court today. (To repeat my interest in the case, I was co-counsel for petitioner Scott, the police officer who was sued.)

  Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, joined by all but Justice Stevens. Scalia's first step is to clarify the facts applicable at the summary judgment stage. He sees a major conflict between what the videotape shows and what the lower courts said, and he concludes that the videotape governs. Scalia writes:
When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment. . . . Respondent’s version of events is so utterly discredited by the record that no reasonable jury could have believed him. 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.
  Scalia next turns to the Fourth Amendment standard. He agrees with Scott's argument that this case is not governed by Tennessee v. Garner's specific rule, but rather must be governed by a general reasonableness standard. However, whereas Scott's brief tried to distinguish Garner on whether it was clear that deadly force was used, Justice Scalia distinguishes it on the ground that car chases are just very different from shooting fleeing felons:
Garner did not establish a magical on/off switch that triggers rigid preconditions whenever an officer’s actions constitute “deadly force.” Garner was simply an application of the Fourth Amendment’s “reasonableness” test, Graham, supra, at 388, to the use of a particular type of force in a particular situation. . . . Whatever Garner said about the factors that might have justified shooting the suspect in that case, such “preconditions” have scant applicability to this case, which has vastly different facts. “Garner had nothing to do with one car striking another or even with car chases in general . . . . A police car'’s bumping a fleeing car is, in fact, not much like a policeman’s shooting a gun so as to hit a person.” Nor is the threat posed by the flight on foot of an unarmed suspect even remotely comparable to the extreme danger to human life posed by respondent in this case.Although respondent’'s attempt to craft an easy-to-apply legal test in the Fourth Amendment context is admirable, in the end we must still slosh our way through the factbound morass of “reasonableness. ” Whether or not Scott’'s actions constituted application of “deadly force,” all that matters is whether Scott'’s actions were reasonable.
  That brings Justice Scalia to the general reasonableness balancing, and he has "little difficulty" concluding that Scott's conduct was reasonable. "[I]n judging whether Scott’'s actions were reasonable, we must consider the risk of bodily harm that Scott’'s actions posed to respondent in light of the threat to the public that Scott was trying to eliminate." Weighing the risks of acting and not acting, and factoring in the culpabillity of the different people who might be harmed, Scalia concludes that Scott acted reasonably.

  Near the end of the opinion, Scalia offers a rule to give guidance to police officers in future cases:
A police officer'’s attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death.
  Notably, that's a significant broader rule than Scott had asked for in his brief (to repeat my interest in the case, I co-wrote Scott's brief). Whereas Scott had argued that reasonable efforts to minimize harm make the seizure reasonable, the Court's rule is that if a high-speed car chase threatens the lives of innocents, the police can terminate the chase under the Fourth Amendment even if it puts the fleeing motorist at serious risk of death. (Exactly what it means to "threaten the lives of innocent bystanders" may be someowhat unclear, though; perhaps this is simply a recasting of the probable cause requirement of Garner? I'm not sure.)

  Justices Ginsburg and Breyer joined the majority, but each wrote short concurring opinions. Ginsburg added her 2 cents that the issue was case-by-case reasonableness, and that she didn't understand the court to be offering a mechanical, per se rule; Breyer adds that to him the video is the key to the case. (They also both address the Saucier v. Katz question of the order of addressing Fourth Amendment and qualified immunity issues, but they weren't really raised in the case.)

  Justice Stevens wrote a spririted solo dissent that essentially adopts the 11th Circuit's view of the case. Justice Stevens looks at the videotape and concludes that the lower court judges were right: Harris didn't pose that much of a threat to the public, and reasonable jurors could conclude that Scott acted unreasonably in stopping him. Stevens accuses the majority of acting as "jurors" who are engaging in "de novo factfinding" rather than deferring to the views of lower court judges "who are surely more familiar with the hazards of driving on Georgia roads than we are." Stevens concludes:
In my view, the risks inherent in justifying unwarranted police conduct on the basis of unfounded assumptions are unacceptable, particularly when less drastic measures —in this case, the use of stop sticks or a simple warning issued from a loudspeaker— could have avoided such a tragic result. In my judgment, jurors in Georgia should be allowed to evaluate the reasonableness of the decision to ram respondent’s speeding vehicle in a manner that created an obvious risk of death and has in fact made him a quadriplegic at the age of 19.
In footnote 5 of the majority opinion, Scalia responds to Stevens:
JUSTICE STEVENS suggests that our reaction to the videotape is somehow idiosyncratic, and seems to believe we are misrepresenting its contents. We are happy to allow the videotape to speak for itself.
Scalia then posts a link -- er, rather, cites the URL -- of the video, which is here.
Anderson (mail) (www):
Gotta agree w/ Scalia on the issue of credibility in SJ rulings -- the need to defer credibility determinations to the jury does not mean accepting the incredible.

Without taking the time to get into the case, I think the 8-1 vote strongly suggests that Scalia was right on that issue.
4.30.2007 1:39pm
Steve Spielberg:
It's a good thing there's no technology around that lets you make a "video" of events that never happened. That way judges can decide reality without worrying about chain of custody or other evidentiary issues.
4.30.2007 1:47pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
Am I the only one channeling Richard Pryor on this SJ question?

Respondent to Court re: videotape: Who you gonna believe, Judge? Me, or your lyin' eyes?
4.30.2007 1:54pm
Justin (mail):
Although it was a reversal, I think that perhaps granting cert in this case was unwise. They probably made the decision to grant cert before seeing the videotape (see, e.g., Scalia's dissent in Kyles v. Whitley).

I'm not sure they should have reached the SJ issue unless they granted cert on it, either. While I don't know if Stevens is correct, I think the question of SJ review is far more difficult when dealing with credibility judgments than the majority seems to admit. The concern I have is that this case will be used to create two credibility burdens for plaintiffs - first they must convince the judge, and then the jury.
4.30.2007 2:00pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
Is this the first step toward televised SCOTUS proceedings?
4.30.2007 2:00pm
Dissapointed:
Worst. Opinion. Ever. Surely it's not a problem when justices of the Supreme Court rule as if they are the best interpreters of the Constitution. BUT when they rule as if they are the best interpreters of a videotape!?! Give me a break. I'm definitely with Stevens on this one. I don't even think he needed to engage the majority on their interpretation of the tape. Deference to the lower courts on something like this should be all but absolute.
4.30.2007 2:17pm
e:
So is Mr. "Spielberg" suggesting that the injured driver challenged the video as doctored? Right. I'm sure evidence/chain of custody rules remain unaffected.
4.30.2007 2:20pm
blindgambit:
Spielberg:

The opinion mentions there is no claim made by Harris that the videotape is not an accurate depiction of events.

I liked the Court's handling of the summary judgment question; when I clerked we had several cases where the facts alleged by the Plaintiff were just fanciful or plainly contradicted by other portions of the record, and I think Scalia is correct in his handling of that issue.
4.30.2007 2:26pm
Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog (www):
Scalia then posts a link -- er, rather, cites the URL -- of the video, which is here.

Actually, the pdf that I viewed is linkable. It brings on an immediate download.

--ET
4.30.2007 2:27pm
Bobbie (mail):
What format is the video in? I can't seem to view it in windows media player.
4.30.2007 2:31pm
Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog (www):
It downloaded in RealPlayer to my Mac.

--ET
4.30.2007 2:40pm
e:
Just watched the video, and don't really have much sympathy. Sad case, but he brought it on himself. Hardly the abandoned roads I was lead to believe. If anything the police were too patient.
4.30.2007 2:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I find Stevens' opinion particularly disingenuous. At least two points:

* "no evidence that he ever lost control of his vehicle." - Are the police supposed to wait until after he crashes before they try to stop him?

* "What would have happened if the police had decided to abandon the chase? We now know that they could have apprehended respondent later because they had his license plate number." - We "now know" that, but the test is what they knew at the time. And license plate numbers identify car owners, not car drivers.
4.30.2007 2:40pm
OrinKerr:
Dissappointed writes:
Worst. Opinion. Ever. Surely it's not a problem when justices of the Supreme Court rule as if they are the best interpreters of the Constitution. BUT when they rule as if they are the best interpreters of a videotape!?! Give me a break. . . . Deference to the lower courts on something like this should be all but absolute.
What case would you cite for that? This was just a summary judgment question: The lower courts saw the same evidence that the Supreme Court saw.
4.30.2007 2:47pm
Steve:
We "now know" that, but the test is what they knew at the time.

And don't we "now know" that they had his license plate number at the time?
4.30.2007 3:05pm
A Northwestern Law Student (mail):
And don't we "now know" that they had his license plate number at the time?

Yes, but the point is that, at the time, the police didn't know whether they had his license plate number, or the plates of somebody who's car he'd stolen, as often happens.
4.30.2007 3:13pm
Ubertrout (mail) (www):
Out of curiosity, why do you think the other Justices did not join Justice Breyer's concurrence regarding deciding the immunity question first? You'd think that would be more in line with the conservative approach of at least another four Justices.
4.30.2007 3:18pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
CNN headline: "High court: Car chase suspects can't sue police"
4.30.2007 3:33pm
Bobbie (mail):
For those of you without real player, you can view the video on cnn.com.

Having watched part of the chase, I agree with the Stevens dissent. A jury, from Georgia who have likely traveled on the road in question, are better equipped to know whether the cop's actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

I'm also not clear why the police thought ramming him was not incredibly unsafe for "innocent bystanders" in the area. It seems perverse that they wanted to keep the driver from losing control and hitting an innocent bystander, so they remedied the situation by forcing him to lose control. In the past, the police have come under scrutiny in different jurisdictions for initiating chases that endangered the lives of pedestrians. For whatever reason, that concern has faded over the past 5 years or so.
4.30.2007 3:52pm
Houston Lawyer:
Running from the police in a car is the equivalent of randomly shooting off a gun in a populated area. I think this opinion reflects mosts people's idea of common sense.
4.30.2007 3:56pm
Bobbie (mail):
Houston Lawyer, it's a shame, then, that we will never know whether this opinion reflects most people's idea of common sense as no jury will ever get to hear all the facts and let you know.

I also don't think running from the police in a car is equivalent to randomly shooting off a gun in a populated area. But perhaps that's just a reflection of our upbringing and our experiences. Once you recognize your view of "common sense" is heavily dependent on your own personal experiences, you might view differently whether you can declare that no reasonable person would disagree about the cops' actions in this case.
4.30.2007 4:01pm
markm (mail):
If Harris sued Scott, why is the case Scott vs. Harris?

Garner should be easily distinguished, shooting a suspect fleeing on foot is not the same as bumping one fleeing in a car. First, a high speed chase is considerably more dangerous to the general public than a foot chase. Second, the "deadly force" is rather different; bumping stands a good chance of stopping the suspect without seriously injuring him, but shooting stops the suspect only if it causes injuries.

The fleeing suspect and the general public aren't the only ones in danger in high speed chases, the police are too. That increases my reluctance to second-guess the officer who was on the spot and had to make a decision in the heat of the moment. Bumping the suspect's car must make it even more dangerous to the police, for the moment, so I don't think there's a danger of the police heedlessly overusing the tactic just because the SC exempted them from lawsuits over it. (Not that this is what the decision amounts to; Scott could have won on a better set of facts.)
4.30.2007 4:08pm
L.R.:
So, Mr. co-counsel Orin, what about Stevens's spike-strip point? I've watched enough COPS to know that's an option.

(Also of note, this is about the third case I can think of off the top of my head where Stevens basically brags about how old he is. See Texas v. Johnson, Granholm v. Heald. Number four might be today's Microsoft v. AT&T, but that'd be unintentional.)
4.30.2007 4:32pm
OrinKerr:
MarkM: At the Supreme Court, cases are styled Petitioner v. Respondent. Scott lost before the Eleventh Circuit.
4.30.2007 4:33pm
L.R.:
Markm, because Scott appealled to the Supreme Court from the Eighth Circuit, which ruled for Harris.
4.30.2007 4:34pm
L.R.:
*Eleventh
4.30.2007 4:34pm
OrinKerr:
L.R.,

Have you read the briefs?
4.30.2007 4:34pm
curious:
I smell a crim pro exam question in the works . . .
4.30.2007 5:18pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Having watched part of the chase, I agree with the Stevens dissent. A jury, from Georgia who have likely traveled on the road in question, are better equipped to know whether the cop's actions were reasonable under the circumstances.
Uh, what? Are the roads in Georgia equipped with different laws of physics than those in other states?

Is there any reason on earth to believe that "a jury from Georgia" is "likely" to have driven on "the road in question"? Is there only one road in Georgia?
4.30.2007 5:26pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
I can't tell from the video whether what the officers did was reasonable or not. I think summary judgment should rarely, if ever, be granted on the basis of just a video.

Did someone tell the judges that the feeling of speed in the video can depend on the focal length used, for example? Scalia saying the video speaks for itself is one of the more ignorant things I've heard from a court recently. (I wonder if he would have felt the same way about the Rodney King video.)
4.30.2007 5:44pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
David M. Nierepont,

Given that the plaintiff presumably would file suit in the nearest federal district court, yes, it's actually quite likely that at least some of the members of the jury (having been drawn from the local population) would have driven on the road in question. I don't understand why you bother to question this point. If I get in a high speed car chase on Broadway in Manhattan (OK, make that a moderate speed car chase), am injured due to police action and sue, I would file in the SDNY and the jurors probably would ALL be people who had walked and/or driven on Broadway at some point.

There are no different laws of physics, but different roads are different. I have driven very fast indeed on some 4 lane highways back home (East TX) b/c of the dearth of other cars or pedestrians on those roads; I've driven somewhat quickly on the road between my hometown and Austin, which at times is a mere 2 lane road, b/c it also has few cars and pedestrians; I never would drive over 30mph in Manhattan except maybe on the West Side highway, due to the number of other cars and pedestrians, the existence of crosswalks, etc. To say that all roads require the same driving is ridiculous.
4.30.2007 5:55pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
PGofHSM -- I concede that if the jurors happened to have driven on that particular road, they might have some insight that someone else would not have. Is there any reason to believe that the random 12 people picked for this particular jury would be likely to have driven on this particular road?

What if it's not Broadway? What if it's Maiden Lane?

Can the legal question really turn on whether the road is one that jurors might be likely to have driven on?
4.30.2007 6:39pm
Visitor Again:
I'm partially repeating a comment I made on the first post on this case because that post has largely been ignored in view of later postings.

If the chase is highly dangerous to innocent passers-by, surely the chase is unreasonable as a matter of law, at least where all the police know is that the driver of the chased car speeded or failed to obey a command to stop or is driving a stolen car. When does the risk to innocent passers-by render the chase unreasonable and require that the police give up the chase?

It's apparently beyond the ken of the majority that it might be appropriate for the police to give up the chase. I could understand that the police might want to chase a known killer at some risk of injury to innocent bystanders, but not someone who, as far as they know, is only guilty of speeding, failure to stop at police request or even auto theft.

I've taken a particularly dim view of these police chases ever since the police chased a stolen vehicle at high speed into a head-on collision with my girlfriend's car during morning rush hour on Jefferson Boulevard in Los Angeles. The LAPD might not have done that at rush hour on Wilshire Boulevard or Beverly Boulevard, but different rules prevail in the ghetto. The upshot was permanent injury to my girlfriend, and the cops didn't even catch the fleeing car thief. He hopped a fence and got away. Under the laws of many states, the police have immunity from tort liability for these car chases.
4.30.2007 7:10pm
Visitor Again:
Addendum to my comment: I guess the majority would say there is no police seizure at all of an innocent passer-by hurt by the chased car as a result of a police chase. And, if I recall, the Court already has held that an innocent passer-by doesn't have a due process claim in these circumstances. Could be wrong on that, but I don't think so.
4.30.2007 7:16pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
No, the legal question turns on the general premise behind having local juries except in such cases where they will be too biased against one party to provide a fair trial: do we let a jury of peers make factual determinations like the degree of danger created by the driver, and the reasonableness of the force employed by the officer in seizing the driver, or do we give such decisions to faraway judges to make as a matter of law?

Can the legal question really turn on whether the driver ran one red light or two; the number of cars he passed during the chase; the number of inches of rain that fell during the course of the chase; how far over the double-yellow he went; etc.?

As to the fact of whether Peachtree City jurors are likely to have drive on Highway 74, given that "The geographic center of Peachtree City is generally considered to be the intersection of Georgia State Route 54 and Georgia State Route 74," this seems fairly likely. My consistent residency in my hometown (which has a slightly smaller population than Peachtree City's 35k) ended a year after I got my driver's license, but I've still driven on most of the major state and federal highways that go through it: US 59 every day senior year, 259 to Dallas, 21 to Austin, 7 to my dad's practice in Center... people who live and work there probably have driven all of them, and are more familiar than I.

I don't know how you were raised, but people in small southern towns know the roads around them; they have to, if they ever want to get to an airport or major retail outlet.
4.30.2007 7:24pm
MJG:
I'm troubled by this opinion. Although I agree that fleeing car suspects do pose risks to bystanders (unlike Tenn. v. Garner), I think Scalia gives insufficient (or even no) weight to the fleeing suspect's interests in his own health. This may simply be evidence of my own shortcomings, but I have a hard time explaining why this is not a per se rule that the police may hit anyone who begins to flee, at almost any speed.

And, whether or not the videotape really does show that the lower court's factual rulings were flatly wrong (I do not think it does), this is still a SJ question. Unless I'm mistaken, the question is whether "no reasonable jury" could find for Harris. The majority says no. I find that a stretch. No reasonable jury could look at that same tape and say, "Hmm, Harris was going fast, but, you know, ramming him into that embankment at 90 mph and paralyzing him from the neck down was not reasonable"?

Maybe none of this will matter because there won't be police videotapes to "conclusive disprove" lower court findings taken most favorable to the plaintiff. But I just find it strange.

I don't think this was the case to grant cert on for this issue. And, just as a footnote, I too am surprised no one else joined Breyer's opinion.
4.30.2007 10:24pm
Reg (mail):

I think the question of SJ review is far more difficult when dealing with credibility judgments than the majority seems to admit.


There is no credibility judgment to make because they have the video. In a unreasonable seizure case, if the facts are stipulated, there is no issue for a jury, the judge determines whether the officers conduct was unreasonable. I think this was clear from Graham, though courts often forget this and frame the question as whether a reasonable jury could find the conduct unreasonable. Hopefully Scalia's footnote clears this up.

This is a problematic position though, because if the Plaintiff has alleged unreasonable police conduct, then the jury gets to make the legal determination of whether the force used was unreasonable. If the rasonableness of the police conduct is truly a legal issue, the court's should protect its role and give the jury special interrogatories regarding the facts in dispute, and then rule on the reasonableness of the force used. This is much like the way the Courts determine qualified immunity after trial. The jury makes factual findings, and then based on those findings, the Court determines whether the officer's conduct violated clearly established law.

If I had any ambition to be an academic, I think the role of juries in fourth amendment cases would make an interesting law review article.
5.1.2007 1:52am
Dave N (mail):
I viewed the video (about 16 minutes, views from two separate police cars--the initial car first, then the one that rams the vehicle).

The vehicle engaged in a high speed chase and hit a police car when they tried to box him in. The version of "facts" from the Eleventh Circuit are just inherently unbelievable given the two videos--which Harris conceded were accurate.

Did the police act reasonably? It appears to me they did.
5.1.2007 2:30am
David M. Nieporent (www):
PGofHSM -- I was unaware that there's a United States District Court for the District of Peachtree City. I'm pretty sure it's the Northern District of Georgia, and people can be called from any one of numerous counties.

But your response misses my point. Whether to grant summary judgment can't turn on whether the road on which it happened was a popular road or an unpopular one. What happens if the jurors aren't familiar with the road in question? Does that make a difference?

Can the legal question really turn on whether the driver ran one red light or two; the number of cars he passed during the chase; the number of inches of rain that fell during the course of the chase; how far over the double-yellow he went; etc.?
Of course. Those are facts about the case, not facts about the jurors.

And in this particular instance, there's no dispute about the facts, so I'm not sure why you think it's a jury question. The issue here was the legal question of whether it was an unreasonable seizure.
5.1.2007 3:24am
akljsdflkajsfdlj:
I think the police are using a bootstrapping argument. The danger posed by the driver was a direct response to the police giving chase. While I agree that does not justify his crazy driving, it just seems it would have made more sense for the police to have used a helicopter to follow him and call off the ground forces. That way, his driving would calm down and the police could have subsequently taken him down when he had come to a stop.

Also, is the need to pursue a motorist pulled over for speeding really strong enough to justify a police chase in the first place? I realize the argument that if people knew that the police would not give chase, they would just not stop in the first place. However, the police can easily record the license plate of the car and even get along side the vehicle to take a picture of the driver prior to initiating the stop. That way, in the event the motorist refused to stop or subsequently ran, they would be able to catch the person later.

In circumstances when the police were trying to stop a serious criminal in the first place, and not in the instances where the motorist became a serious criminal by virtue of a high speed police chase, then I would agree more drastic measures were necessary. But even then, a police helicopter would seem the best method to track the motorist.
5.1.2007 10:10am
Steve Spielberg:

blindgambit:
The opinion mentions there is no claim made by Harris that the videotape is not an accurate depiction of events



I understand that David Blane's videotapes are also accurate depictions of events. Of course other camera angles might suggest his feats of magic are something else.

The record is silent as to whether the perp is an accomplished autocross driver trained in the streets of Cairo and on the autobahn, or a three-time driver-test failure. Recordings are biased. It's much like trying to detect that someone is lying by reading a transcript.


Odds are that the perp deserves what he got, but I'm not willing to risk being the guy that the cops set up now that my conduct on their videotape is beyond challenge.
5.1.2007 12:22pm
whit:
"Also, is the need to pursue a motorist pulled over for speeding really strong enough to justify a police chase in the first place?"

i haven't read the case to confirm if the sole reason for pursuing was just speeding, but i can tell you POLICYWISE, that most police agencies do not allow pursuits for mere traffic infractions (note that DUI and Reckless are traffic crimes, not infractions, but generally speaking the crime must occur prior the pursuit to justify a pursuit for reckless)

i've reviewed numerous policies, and i have yet to see an agency that authorizes pursuit for speeding. not saying they don't exist.

fwiw, some agencies are VERY restrictive (usually in liberal/pc cities) and only allow pursuits for BARC felonies for instance (burglary, arson, robbery, kidnapping) and that's about it.

my agency has a rather broad pursuit policy, but certainly not speeding.

the idea that they could catch the person later assumes they know who he is, and/or a photo would be enough.

in this incident, regardless of whether the initial pursuit for speeding was a good idea, when the guy rammed the cop - that upped the 'reasonableness' of an intervention technique such as PIT etc.

fwiw, the stupidity of criminals never ceases to amaze me. police policies are public record. it is relatively easy to find out what cities authorize police pursuit for auto theft, etc. and which don't. a SMART criminal would go to the cities where the police don't pursue, and only do auto thefts there. a no-pursuit policy definitely creates a perverse incentive - run from us, and you get rewarded. stop for us, and you get arrested.

but most criminals don't do the research.

again, showing how we only catch the dumb ones- usually
5.2.2007 1:29pm
UChicago 2L:
I think the police are using a bootstrapping argument. The danger posed by the driver was a direct response to the police giving chase. While I agree that does not justify his crazy driving, it just seems it would have made more sense for the police to have used a helicopter to follow him and call off the ground forces. That way, his driving would calm down and the police could have subsequently taken him down when he had come to a stop.

A helicopter? A helicopter. A police helicopter, for the police department of Peachtree City, GA. To be called out from its landing pad (wherever that happens to be) to find and chase fleeing drivers. Or perhaps to patrol 24/7?

That's a lot of money to spend in order for a municipality to maintain control of its own roads.
5.2.2007 4:07pm
whit:
thank you for that post uchicago. one of the ways you can tell somebody has no idea what they are talking about is when they make claims like this (why didn't they just use a helicopter)

what is also hilarious is those influenced by too many episodes of tj hooker, where they can't understand why two 220 lb burly cops couldn't take 1 180 lb methhead into custody without breaking his arm etc.

use of force is not clean and easy (although taser's help immensely and save numerous suspects, officers, and civilians from injury).

neither are chases.

heck, i worked for a 1000 person agency that didn't have spike strips, and where a helicopter was rarely available. and that's with 1000 people (big dept.)

the idea that this little PD just needed to fire up that helicopter is pretty funny
5.2.2007 5:40pm
nobody at all (mail):
How can a 1000 person agency not have spike strips? I can understand not having MULTIPLE helicopters as they are multi-million dollar pieces of equipment (although I live in an area where our Parks District alone, has FOUR!), but surely you can afford spike strips..they are only a few hundred bucks a unit, less than a sidearm, about 1/10 the cost of the new Motorola, and not even as much as a replacement rear partition in a Vic which get replaced a lot. For basic equipment, its CHEAP. And effective, I can't understand not having them.
5.4.2007 5:26am
Ryan36:
Very few police agencies have helicopters, less than 1%. I doubt that Deputy Scott's department had access to one. While I agree that PD's should have restrictive pursuit policies and that this particular pursuit should not have been initiated, this Court decision was correct. Harris should not get to sue officers or a municipality because he was the one that chose to flee.

The dissent, at best, shows a detachment from reality. Justice Stevens is almost congratulating the Harris for his "safe" driving.

In fact, at one point, when respondent found himself behind a car in his own lane and there were cars traveling in the other direction, he slowed and waited for the cars traveling in the other direction to pass before overtaking the car in front of him while using his turn signal to do so.

How commendable! He still led police on a high-speed sixteen minute chase, at night, and on winding roads. It is tragic, but he has no one to blame but himself.
5.7.2007 12:28pm
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5.11.2007 5:42am
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5.11.2007 5:43am