Ruling doesn't justify all high-speed chases
Videotaped accounts of high-speed police chases taken from helicopters are cheap but popular television fare. Aside from entertaining, the clips show the number of pedestrians and other motorists who escape being victims in these chases.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a Georgia case that law enforcement officers have immunity when they use life-threatening tactics to stop a fleeing suspect. In the Coweta County case, a deputy rammed a fleeing Cadillac on a rain-slick, two-lane road. The 19-year-old driver, wanted for speeding, lost control and crashed. The collision paralyzed him.
The court in its 8-1 ruling seemed not to see the entire picture. "A police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death," Justice Antonin Scalia said.
These folks don't watch much low-budget TV. In many cases, more people are at risk because of these chases.
Most police agencies have specific rules for when their officers may pursue fleeing suspects. Hopefully, agencies won't relax guidelines because of the ruling.