Excessive Lethal Force

18 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2017 Last revised: 6 May 2018

See all articles by Melissa Hamilton

Melissa Hamilton

University of Surrey School of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2017


This Essay considers the use by Dallas police officers of a robot armed with plastic explosives to kill a suspected gunman on a shooting rampage in 2016. In the wake of Dallas, many legal experts in the news maintained that the police action was constitutional. The commentators' consensus was that as long as the police had the right to use lethal force, then the means of that force is irrelevant. This Essay argues the contrary. Under the current state of the constitutional law on the police use of force on a suspected felon, excessive lethal force is a valid consideration. The type and magnitude of lethal force may, under certain circumstances, be unconstitutional despite the suspect posing a high degree of risk to others.

Keywords: Police use of force, excessive force, Fourth Amendment, unreasonable seizure, balancing

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Hamilton, Melissa, Excessive Lethal Force (July 1, 2017). 111 Northwestern University Law Review 1167 (2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2996060

Melissa Hamilton (Contact Author)

University of Surrey School of Law ( email )

United Kingdom

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