Unguided Missiles: Why the Supreme Court Should Prohibit Police Officers from Shooting at Moving Vehicles

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(Photo: Robert Kuykendall/Flickr)

In just an eighteen month period, the Supreme Court decided two cases involving the use of deadly force to end high‐speed police pursuits. Although most police departments have policies limiting when officers can initiate pursuits, in both cases, the Court never questioned whether the initial decision by police officers to engage in a high‐speed pursuit of the suspects was reasonable. The Court also found that shooting into a moving vehicle in an effort to end the pursuit was reasonable despite the fact that most police departments prohibit officers from using this tactic. The Court should reconsider the excessive leeway given to individual officers in light of the growing consensus among the Department of Justice, experts on the use of force, and local police departments that firing into vehicles creates significant risks and can constitute excessive force.

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