Making Conservatives Cringe Since 1977
I'm not Liberal, I'm paying attention.
03 December 2005
Shoot first and ask questions latter...
"There can be no question that apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment."
-Justice Byron White
Shoot To Kill Alito's blank check for cops.
By Emily Bazelon
Posted Friday, Dec. 2, 2005, at 6:06 PM ET
Late on an October night in 1974, Memphis, Tenn., police officer Elton Hymon responded to a call about a break in. At the scene, a neighbor said she'd heard glass shattering and pointed to the house next door. Hymon went behind it. He heard a door slam. Someone ran into the yard and stopped at a 6-foot-high chain-link fence at the yard's edge. Hymon shined his flashlight at the person and saw a teenager who he could tell was unarmed. Hymon called, "Police, halt." The teen started climbing the fence. Hymon shot him in the back of the head, fatally. Edward Garner was a 15-year-old black eighth grader. He was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed about 110 pounds. A purse and $10 were found on his body.
-can you guess what one of my favorite Supreme Court nominees thought about this case when the Memphis Police Department and the state of Tennessee appealed a 6th Circuit's ruling that stated Garner's shooting violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable seizures?
"Was the shooting reasonable?" Alito asked. His answer was yes. "Many of the facts recited by the court of appeals"—like Garner's youth and minor crime—"seem essentially irrelevant." To Alito, the case came down to this: If Officer Hymon shot, "there was the chance that he would kill a person guilty only of a simple breaking and entering; that is essentially what occurred. If he didn't shoot, there was a chance that a murderer or rapist would escape and possibly strike again." Hymon had no reason to think that Garner had done anything violent. Still, Alito concluded, "I do not think the Constitution provides an answer to the officer's dilemma."