The U.S. Supreme Court today said West Memphis police were within their rights in a two-state chase in July 2004 that ended with the deaths of two people. The chase began after questioning at a service station about a broken light. The driver rammed one police car and sideswiped another before being killed in a crash along with a passenger after police fired 15 rounds into the car. The daughter of the driver sued because her father was unarmed and not wanted for a serious offense.
The ruling overturns a decision by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals that found six West Memphis officers were NOT entitled to qualified immunity from lawsuit.
“It stands to reason that, if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended,” said the opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito.