Intro to Criminal Justice
Tennessee v Garner was basically a case involving the use of deadly physical force to defend property. On October 3, 1974, officer Hymon of the Memphis Police department was responding to a burglary. As Hymon made his way to the back of the house he was startled by Garner, thought to be 17 or 18 years old. Garner ran out of the back door of the house and across the dark yard to a six foot chain-link fence. As garner approached the fence, officer Hymon ordered the suspect to stop. Hymon then used his flash light to observe the suspects face and hands and came to the reasonable conclusion that Garner was unarmed and did not pose a threat to his safety. Ignoring the officer Garner began to climb the fence. Hymon believing that if Garner made it over the fence he would flee and shot at him. The bullet hit Garner in the back of the head killing him. Garner who was in fact 15 years old, was later found to be in possession of a purse and ten dollars from the house, but no weapon. Officer Hymon was following both the law of Tennessee and the procedure of the Memphis Police Department. A Memphis police officer is allowed, and taught, to use deadly force to catch a fleeing felon after other reasonable means to catch that person have been attempted. Police are taught to shoot to kill, rather than merely to wound so in this case there is little doubt that Garner's death was not an accident. In 1975, Garner's father filed a civil rights action against the Memphis Police Department, the City, the Mayor, the Director of Police, and Officer Hymon. The suit claimed that Hymon violated Garner's constitutional rights under the fourth, eighth, and fourteenth amendments when he had shot and killed Garner while he tried to escape. The other defendants were sued on the belief that their failure to exercise appropriate care in the hiring, training, and supervision of Hymon made them equally accountable for Garner's death. Lower...
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