The Supreme Court seemed to have little trouble concluding during an unusually one-sided argument yesterday that Arkansas police officers who had used deadly force to end a high-speed car chase could not be sued by the family of the driver, the New York Times reports. The case seems unlikely to give rise to a precedent of major significance.
It arose from a wild chase in 2004 that started in West Memphis, Ar., continued at 100-mile-per-hour speeds on a highway and ended in a hail of 15 bullets in a parking lot in Memphis. The shots killed the driver, Donald Rickard, and his passenger, Kelly Allen. The main legal question for the justices seemed both easy and limited, as the driver's family had to prove not only that the officers' conduct was unlawful but also that this was “clearly established” as a matter of law at the time of the shooting. It seemed a lost cause for the plaintiffs. The case was a sequel to the court's 2007 decision in Scott vs. Harris, ruling against a Georgia man who was paralyzed when his car was rammed by the police during a chase.