Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bang, Bang

Alito favored summary executions:
Alito wrote that he saw no constitutional problem with a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed teenager who was fleeing after a $10 home burglary.

"I think the shooting [in this case] can be justified as reasonable," Alito wrote in a 1984 memo to Justice Department officials. Because the officer could not know for sure why a suspect was fleeing, the courts should not set a rule forbidding the use of deadly force, he said.

"I do not think the Constitution provides an answer to the officer's dilemma," Alito advised. A year later, however, the Supreme Court used the same case to set a firm national rule against the routine use of "deadly force" against fleeing suspects who pose no danger.
The Court held:

The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable
I have to agree, especially in an era when we've all seen shows like The Shield or movies like Training Day in which a gun is planted to justify summary justice. Shooting a guy when lives aren't in danger sure seems like it violates any constitutional guarantee to security in one's person.

"American Skin (41 shots)" by Bruce Springsteen from the album The Essential Bruce Springsteen (2003, 7:52).