Fair Warning: Why the Officer Who Shot Walter Scott Likely Had to Give Some Warning Before Shooting, by Colin Miller, EvidenceProf Blog
I’ve been asked a lot today [April 9, 2015] about the shooting of Walter Scott. The topic that always comes up is the so-called ‘fleeing felon’ rule. Here is the thumbnail explanation of this rule by the Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner:
This case requires us to determine the constitutionality of the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of an apparently unarmed suspected felon. We conclude that such force may not be used unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.
Obviously, anyone watching the video of the shooting likely has serious doubts about whether such probable cause could have existed. Even if those doubts could be quelled, however, there is a second problem for the police officer who shot Scott….