Right to Life: Interest-Convergence Policing
50 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 3, 2018
In the United States, police officers fatally shoot over a thousand people every year. Yet, those officers are seldom prosecuted for, and rarely found guilty of, unjustified use of lethal force. This Article contends that the lack of prosecutions results mainly from leading United States Supreme Court decisions that establish the criminal liability standard for police use of lethal force. It also contends that this standard discourages investigation of such incidents, which diminishes the quality of policing.
Using empiricism and normative principles, this Article seeks to re-direct the doctrinal approach for assessing the legality of police use of lethal force in non-custodial situations. Through a case study, it analyzes how some police officers used lethal force in an unjustified manner and (nearly) got away with murder. It concludes that a constitutional right to life principle requires the lowering of the criminal liability standard for assessing police shootings and recommends the mandating of federal investigations of all such incidents. Finally, it proposes federal legislation regulating the investigation and prosecution of police officers' use of lethal force and provides the constitutional basis for this proposal.
Keywords: police, lethal force, criminal law
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