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May 01, 2007

Supreme Court: High-Speed Chase Suspects Can't Sue Cops For Injuries Due To Crashing

It's madness this even had to go to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave police officers significant protection from lawsuits by suspects who lead them on car chases.

The justices ruled 8-1 against Georgia teenager Victor Harris, who was left a quadriplegic after a police vehicle rammed his car off the road in 2001.

A police officer used "reasonable force" when ramming the teen's speeding car, the high court ruled. A videotape of the pursuit played a key role in the decision. (Watch the Cadillac flip on its side Video)

"The car chase that [Harris] initiated in this case posed substantial and immediate risk of serious physical injury to others," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. "[Deputy Timothy] Scott's attempt to terminate the chase by forcing [Harris] off the road was reasonable."

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Harris' lawsuit against the deputy could go forward. The justices overturned the lower court ruling, meaning the suit can be dismissed.

...

Now 25, Harris resides at an assisted-living facility. He refused an interview to discuss the case, as did Scott. In previous testimony, Harris said he was scared when officers first turned on their sirens and that he did not want his car impounded.

"[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.

The day this doddering old crank retires is a day worth celebrating.

Once again, note how the left casts its reluctance to use any sort of force to stop dangerous criminals as a form of "higher bravery" -- Justice Stevens is just too darn courageous to be bothered by a reckless driving racing at 100mph down streets.

And if such a fleeing suspect should kill a family during his little jaunt -- well, let us honor their memories by being too brave to give a shit that they were murdered.


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posted by Ace at 02:40 PM

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