Police Shooting Cases Change Use of Force
Recent headlines could change the way police use force during arrests, according to the Chicago Tribune. Criticism of perceived racism and police brutality in the high-profile shootings in St. Paul, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana has added tension to already strained police-community relations in Chicago. The video of the fatal shooting of Laquan Davis late last year led to protests and lingering anger against police. Some police officers believe the critical attitude toward police has lead to less “proactive” policing, such as traffic stops.
Tension May Lead to Police Brutality
However, today’s shooting of five police officers at a protest in Dallas, Texas underlines the danger facing on-duty police. In the past few days, several other attacks have occurred against police in Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, possibly in response to the accusations of police brutality in Louisiana and Minnesota, the Huffington Post reports. It’s possible for this perceived threat to lead to more use of force in arrests if police overestimate the danger of the situation. This could lead, ironically, to more incidents of police brutality.
The Law on Deadly Force in Illinois
Even if the social and political environment has changed, the law still lays down strict rules on the use of deadly force by police officers. In Tennessee v. Gardner, the Supreme Court held that police may only use deadly force when the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or others. The Illinois Criminal Code repeats this rule on the use of force and elaborates on the type of situations that might pose a threat of serious physical harm. One specific situation is where the person the officer wishes to arrest has attempted or committed a violent felony that involved serious physical harm to someone, and where that person is attempting to escape. The statute specifically states that the use of a chokehold during an arrest should be considered deadly force. A chokehold is any contact with the neck or throat that is meant to reduce the intake of air.
No Unreasonable Use of Deadly Force
But when is a police officer justified in concluding that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer? In general, a court will evaluate whether the police officer’s decision was reasonable in the context of the facts as they appeared to him or her at the time of the use of force. For example, if a suspect reaches into their pocket, the police officer may only conclude that this justifies the use of lethal force if the circumstances at the time justify it, according to what a reasonable person would think. Since there is no hard and fast rule about what a reasonable person might perceive as a threat of physical injury, there’s no clear line between justified and unjustified use of force during an arrest.
Get Legal Help
Have you or someone you know been the victims of police brutality? If so, you’ll need expert legal guidance to help you get justice. Contact a police brutality lawyer at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago today to get the help you deserve.
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