Nov 16, 2020 in Law

Decision Making Case Study

Decision Making Case Study

1. The central issues involved in the case related to the recent upsurge of community concern with regards to the Pineville County Sheriffs Department physical abuse of authority and mismanagement of the use of force. Taking into account the number of unfortunate incidents, among which one vehicle pursuit with a fatal outcome for a minor offender, the Police Department is currently under an intent watch of the Internal Affairs Unit, legal experts, and civilian observers. As a sheriff, I have to determine whether the Deputy Raymond Racin Ray Ripley acts in compliance with the use-of-force policy, i.e. his actions can be qualified as objectively reasonable under the case circumstances, or whether he should immediately end vehicular pursuit of a private car and put under disciplinary evaluation (Peak, 2010, p. 117-118).


2. The deputy actions violate the updated version of the use-of-force policy recently adopted by the Department providing that a supervisor should cancel any pursuit that does not involve a violent felony crime or other circumstances that would justify the danger and potential liability. Racin Ray use of force and following pursuit are based solely upon his suspicion and conjecture that a private vehicle should not be at the premises of an industrial park after 8:00PM. However, there is no substantial reason to believe that a violent felony crime, such as burglary or theft, or other potentially dangerous circumstances are present that would justify any pursuit of the vehicle at issue (Peak, 2010, p. 146-147).

3. Notwithstanding the fact that the deputy is violating the current use-of-force policy, I believe that the lieutenant should not end Ripleys pursuit. As held in Scott v. Harris, 549 U.S. (2007) it is lawful to initiate pursuit of a suspect who has intentionally placed himself and the public in danger by unlawfully engaging in reckless, high-speed flight. In this case, the car fleeing on high speed to avoid detention by refusing to halt at the police officer's request and having already demonstrated evidence of aggressive resistance by placing the police officer under a deadly threat of a run-over justifies the high stake operation. It is necessary to note that Ripley has followed all of the procedural requirements before engaging in a pursuit of a suspect vehicle. He has informed the Dispatch about his observations about the suspicion of crime, intentional threat of collision with the police officer, location, direction of travel, time, and environmental conditions (Peak, 2010, p. 146-147). Taking into account the seriousness of suspected offense, level of citizen resistance, the inability to identify and arrest the suspects otherwise, as well sufficient reason to believe that the population and traffic density in an industrial park (as a restricted access area) at such a late hour does not condition excessive risk from the pursuit to the third parties. As the supervisor of the pursuit, the lieutenant should order Ripley to engage all police warning devices such as lights and siren, abide by traffic regulations in the process, and terminate the pursuit at once on reaching an excessively high speed suspecting violator's design to intentionally harm other vehicles and pedestrians, or entering a densely populated area (Peak, 2010, p. 126-127).

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4. I believe that, under these circumstances, the deputy has lawfully fired warning shots. As ruled in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. (1985), it is constitutional to use the deadly force to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. There is a substantial reason to believe that the suspect vehicle coming at Ripley from about 30 yards away at a high speed was representing a sufficient amount of threat of death or serious physical injury he was facing at that moment, which justified firing a warning shot into the ground after the police officer identified his presence and attempted to approach the car. It is possible to argue that the scope of potentially deadly force engaged was adequate to the opposing threat and prevented escalation of passive resistance into the deadly resistance phase.

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5. Assuming that the people who were in the parked vehicle lodge file a complaint because of Ripleys actions with the dog, the warning shot, and the Taser, his actions are normally covered by the police department and state policies and procedures grounded upon State Law and Supreme Court decisions (Peak, 2010, p. 67-68). The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that the law enforcement officer may halt and conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle incident to arrest on a reasonable suspicion of crime. In Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. (1985), the Supreme Court has ruled that police may pursue a suspect trying to avoid a lawful apprehension with the application of all the necessary means to effect the arrest, and granted that a deadly force may be used to mitigate deadly resistance of civilian offenders. I believe that the Internal Affairs Unit would find that the deputy was at fault with Department policies regulating carry and use of various types of weapons and requiring police officers to use only authorized and registered weapons. In this case, as a sheriff, I feel responsible to initiate a disciplinary action against Ripley on the ground of unauthorized and untrained use of a dog and a Taser stun device.

6. In the light of the case circumstances, it is clear that additional policies are required in the field of safe and reliable use of weapon and ammunition by the police officers. Officers should be trained and authorized to use such non-lethal weapons as dogs and Taser, which allows protecting them from lethal danger and injuries, as well as reducing the risk of deadly force application in the course of police operations. Additions should be made to the current policy on vehicle pursuits expanding the officers situation-based decision-making authority to initiate the pursuit. Otherwise, officers actions would be paralyzed, and criminals would feel immune to police pursuit once they engage into high-speed escape.


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