Shooting a Fleeing Suspect Who Escapes Still Triggers the Fourth Amendment, Says SCOTUS
Fourth Amendment advocates won big today at the U.S. Supreme Court, which held 5–3 that when the police shoot a fleeing suspect, it still counts as a Fourth Amendment seizure even if the bullets don’t stop the suspect. “The application of physical force to the body with the intent to restrain is a seizure,” declared Chief Justice John Roberts, “even if the person does not submit and is not subdued.”
The case of Torres v. Madrid began in the early morning hours of July 15, 2014, with Roxanne Torres sitting inside her car in her apartment building’s parking lot while several New Mexico State Police officers were parked nearby in an unmarked car. The officers, who were wearing dark tactical vests with police markings, were there to arrest somebody else. They claimed they only approached Torres because they thought she was acting suspiciously. According to Torres, she just saw individuals with guns crowding her car. Thinking she was about to be carjacked, Torres hit the gas. The officers shot her twice as she fled. Torres only learned that it was the police who shot her when she was arrested a day later at the hospital.
Torres sued, arguing that the officers’ use of excessive force violated the
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