Supremes: Police Can Chase - and Pit to Kill

April 30, 2007

If you decide to give the cops a run for it, know that the law is decidedly against you. In an 8-1 decision today, the Supreme Court gave police wide latitude in how they proceed when high-speed chases erupt - and left them with significantly more protection against lawsuits filed after chases.

The original court case came about in Georgia, where 19-year-old Victor Harris claimed that police pursued him too vigorously in a March 2001 chase. The defendant - today, 25 years old - hit speeds of more than 90 mph and crossed the yellow lines on dark, empty roads to avoid the police. When Coweta County officer Timothy Scott performed a PIT maneuver to stop him, Harris' car rolled down an embankment. Harris' injuries left him a quadraplegic.

The ruling is interesting to car fans for the in-car camera video used to rule on the case. Like a scene lifted from Spike TV, justices viewed video of the chase, which followed the chase through to the final crash. Unlike police in, say, Los Angeles, these Georgia cops were authorized to pursue potentially deadly force to prevent the driver from harming others - and the cameras captured it all.

Harris had been pulled over for driving 73 mph in a 55-mph zone when he was pulled over.

Justices Back Police in Chase Case - New York Times

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