Not That Precedent Rides Again

In June, the news hit that a former deputy who allegedly failed to act in an active killer situation in Florida had been criminally charged at the state level.  The social media discussions that ensued were filled with misapplications of precedent to the case.

Six months later, news is beginning to spread that a peace officer in Oklahoma was indicted on a murder charge after he used deadly force to stop an active shooter.  The details of the actual incident and the reasoning behind the indictment are thin.  All that has been reported at this time was the now-indicted officer responded to a call of an individual having shot at multiple people including the responding officers.   The officer in question reportedly fired approximately 60 rounds into the suspect’s vehicle killing her.

Social media is striking again with assertions that Tennessee v. Garner, Graham v. Connor, and Scott v. Harris should apply.

They don’t.

Well, they don’t apply to state-level criminal prosecutions.  While all three above cited cases are landmark cases involving the use of force by peace officers, they each stem from federal civil rights lawsuits.  They don’t apply to state-level criminal prosecutions.  

I saw one assertion that the indictment was an attempt to challenge one of the above cases.

It won’t.

No matter what the verdict, a state-level criminal prosecution will be decided upon the respective state’s criminal laws.  The three federal cases cited above whereas all based on 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging violations of civil rights, and they were decided based upon the objective reasonableness standard established by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Those three cases will likely come into play when the inevitable federal civil rights lawsuit is filed by the deceased’s estate, but, once again, they do not apply to the criminal charges.