U.S. Supreme Court FAILURE: Graham v. Connor (1989)

Sunny Hostin of CNN recently attempted to explain “When Cops Can Use Deadly Force.”  She failed.  Miserably.

Her explanation falls afoul of the Constitution, in part because the Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Connor violated the Constitution.  She could not have picked a WORSE case to use in support of “acceptable” police brutality.

In her video, here, she correctly stated that in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985), the Supreme Court of the United States held that, under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, he or she may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless “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.”

When it comes to Graham v. Connor (1989), however, she erred, failing to state the case as the Supreme Court stated the case.  In fact, any cop listening to Hostin might think, “Ok!  I can slam someone’s head on the hood of my car if I even think they’ve committed a crime.”  WRONG.

Specifically, Hostin stated: “The officer’s actions were justified.”  By “actions,” she was referring to an officer stopping a diabetic who entered a convenience store for orange juice then quickly left after he encountered a long line.  The officer stopped him, and called for backup.  The arriving officers slammed his head onto the hood of a police car and caused serious injury.  Naturally, he sued.  Sunny also stated, “The officers reasonably believed the force they used was necessary to prevent or detect a crime in progress.”

Sorry, but I’m going to have to raise the flag, here:  BULLSHIT!

Here’s the ACTUAL Supreme Court finding: “An objective reasonableness standard should apply to a free citizen’s claim that law enforcement officials used excessive force in the course of making an arrest, investigatory stop, or other “seizure” of his person.” The Court also outlined a list of factors for balancing an individual’s rights vs. an officer’s: 1) “the severity of the crime at issue”; 2) “whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others”; and 3) “whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”

In the case of Graham v. Connor, the suspect’s “criminally suspect” actions were that he entered a store and very soon after, he left the store. People do that all the time, and for a variety of reasons, like they forgot their wallet in the car or left it unlocked, or they changed their mind and decided to go to a different store. No “reasonable” person would EVER find that suspicious, and by wrongly claiming the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court FAILED it’s Constitutional duty to uphold our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

More specifically, the Graham Court cautioned that “The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

Sorry, Supreme Court, but THAT’S BULLSHIT. Those who enforce the law are called to a higher standard than that. SCOTUS, you’re also forgetting that In criminal law, Blackstone’s formulation (also known as Blackstone’s ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle that: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” Benjamin Franklin stated it as, “it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer”. This was also held in English common law, that “All presumptive evidence of felony should be admitted cautiously; for the law holds it better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent party suffer” (Commentaries on the Laws of England).

John Adams also expanded upon the rationale behind Blackstone’s Formulation when he stated: “It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished…. when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, ‘it is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.’ And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever.”

Yet that’s PRECISELY what the U.S. Supreme Court did in Graham v. Connor:

  • They FAILED the Blackstone test.
  • They FAILED Adams’ exposition.
  • They FAILED Benjamin Franklin’s version.
  • They FAILED our Founding Fathers (both Adams and Franklin were Founding Fathers).
  • They FAILED We the People.

The Supreme Court even FAILED the Bible on which they swore their oath of office, as the Blackstone tests originates from Genesis 18:23-32, where Abraham drew near to God, and said, “Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? … What if ten are found there?” He [The Lord] said, “I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake.”

In Graham v. Connor, the United States Supreme Court FAILED the people of our great nation. In so doing, they opened the door to one police brutality atrocity after another, the likes of which will probably never end until the Supreme Court REVERSES its decision in Graham v. Connor.