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Supreme Court Rules Police Roadblock is a Seizure

NCJ Number
Police Liability Review Dated: (1990) Pages: 1-3
V E Kappeler
Date Published
3 pages
The Supreme Court considered the argument that a police roadblock, which impeded the flight of a man driving a stolen car when he crashed into the roadblock and was killed, constituted an unreasonable seizure according to the fourth amendment to the Constitution.
The Court of Appeals had ruled that the roadblock did not constitute a seizure, despite a precedent that any restraint by a police officer is a seizure, because the man's freedom of movement was not restrained prior to his failure to stop voluntarily and because he had had a number of opportunities to stop his vehicle. The Supreme Court decision established that a fourth amendment seizure occurs only when there is a governmental termination of freedom of movement through means intentionally applied. In contrast to a police car pursuit or to a policeman in the road signaling an oncoming car to stop, a roadblock is a significant show of authority designed to induce a voluntary stop and also to produce a stop by physical impact if voluntary compliance does not occur. The Supreme Court, however, did not decide whether the victim's constitutional rights had been violated through an unreasonable seizure, ruling that the circumstances of this roadblock must be considered to determine the outcome of the case.


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