Does Shooting a Fleeing Suspect During an Escape Constitute a Seizure?


By: Sun Choy

It has been generally accepted that the intentional application of force constitutes a “seizure” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.  But what happens if the intentional use of force does not result in terminating an escape?  This is the issue before the United States Supreme Court in Torres v. Madrid.  Police officers shot Torres, but she drove away and temporarily eluded capture.  In granting qualified immunity, the trial court concluded that she had not been seized to trigger the Fourth Amendment protections against the use of excessive force.  In affirming, the Tenth Circuit joined the D.C. Circuit and created a split with the Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits that do not require successful detention. The ACLU and the Cato Institute have filed competing amicus briefs.  The oral argument set for March 30 has all the makings for some interesting hypotheticals and legal banter.
Stay tuned for a synopsis of the argument.
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