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The Influence of the "Garner" Decision on Police Use of Deadly Force

Abraham N. Tennenbaum
The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-)
Vol. 85, No. 1 (Summer, 1994), pp. 241-260
DOI: 10.2307/1144118
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1144118
Page Count: 20
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The Influence of the "Garner" Decision on Police Use of Deadly Force
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Abstract

In March of 1985, the Supreme Court in "Tennessee v. Garner" held that laws authorizing police use of deadly force to apprehend fleeing, unarmed, non-violent felony suspects violate the Fourth Amendment, and therefore states should eliminate them. This paper investigates the impact of that decision on the number of homicides committed by police officers nationwide. The investigation shows a significant reduction (approximately sixteen percent) between the number of homicides committed before, and after the decision. This reduction was more significant in states which declared their laws regarding police use of deadly force to be unconstitutional after the "Garner" decision. Evidence suggests that the reduction is due not only to a reduction in shooting fleeing felons, but also to a general reduction in police shooting. This paper discusses a mechanism that can explain the unique "Tennessee v. Garner" dynamic.

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