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Supreme Court Protects
Police in Car-Chase Suit

Associated Press
April 30, 2007 11:11 a.m.


WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday gave police officers
protection from lawsuits that result from high-speed car chases, ruling
against a Georgia teenager who was paralyzed after his car was run off
the road.

In a case that turned on a video of the chase in suburban Atlanta,
Justice Antonin Scalia said law-enforcement officers do not have to call
off pursuit of a fleeing motorist when they reasonably expect that other
people could be hurt.

Rather, officers can take measures to stop the car without putting
themselves at risk of civil rights lawsuits.

"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 Scalia said.

The court sided 8-1 with former Coweta County sheriff's deputy Timothy
Scott, who rammed a fleeing black Cadillac on a two-lane, rain-slicked
road in March 2001.

Victor Harris, the 19-year-old driver of the Cadillac, lost control and
his car ended up at the bottom of an embankment. Mr. Harris, paralyzed,
sued Mr. Scott.

Lower federal courts ruled the lawsuit could proceed, but the Supreme
Court said Monday that it could not. Justice John Paul Stevens
dissented.