U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Tennessee v. Garner - The Fleeing Felon Rule

NCJ Number
Saint Louis University Law Journal Volume: 30 Issue: 4 Dated: (October 1986) Pages: 1259-1277
J Simon
Date Published
19 pages
In Tennessee v. Garner, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Tennessee statute that permitted police to use deadly force against a suspected felon fleeing arrest.
In its decision, the Court held that apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the reasonableness requirement of the fourth amendment, and that its use to prevent the escape of all felony suspects was constitutionally impermissible. The proper rule, as the court suggests, would allow the use of deadly force only when a suspect poses a substantial risk of serious physical harm. However, a major problem with the decision is that it requires a police office to be practically certain that a suspect is dangerous without providing any guidance to the arresting officer for making this determination. A better approach would be to emphasize the risk encountered by the officer in a specific situation, but also to allow the officer to be guided by the nature of the crime involved. This approach would limit the use of deadly force to inherently dangerous situations, while also providing the protection needed to the arresting officer and the general public. 121 footnotes.


No download available