Discussion: When Is Law Enforcement Officers’ Use of Force Justified?  

I HAVE CHOSEN:  Kingsley v. Hendrickson 744 F. 3d 443 (2015)  

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions provide guidance on how use of force is evaluated during legal disputes. The two court decisions differ according to who defines “reasonable use of force” when the use of force in a situation is evaluated to decide whether it is justified. In Graham v. Connor (1989), the court determined that “reasonableness” as it pertains to use of force, is defined according to the opinion of an officer at the scene of the incident or who could imagine being at the scene. Accordingly, reasonable use of force and whether it is justified are defined by law enforcement officers. In Kingsley v. Hendrickson (2015), the court made a different decision about who determines how “reasonable” is defined as it pertains to use of force. The court decided that the reasonableness of the use of force could be determined by ordinary citizens. In the Graham v. Connor (1989) court decision, the actions of police officers were the focus. In Kingsley v. Hendrickson (2015), the actions of correctional officers were the focus of the legal issues. Both court decisions, however, defined whether use of force would be considered to be reasonable. An important legal question about this shift in the U.S. Supreme Courts’ decision is whether the recent opinion that involved correctional officers will also be applicable to police officers’ use of force. To date, this legal question has not been addressed in a court of law. Who do you think should set the standards for how “reasonable” is defined in use of force?:

  • Law enforcement officers as stated by Graham v. Connor (1989) or
  • Ordinary citizens as stated by Kingsley v. Hendrickson (2015).

For this Discussion, you will analyze both U.S. Supreme Court decisions and identify the one that you agree with the most. Using the Learning Resources, you will explain and justify your opinion. You will also consider how the most recent decision, Kingsley v. Hendrickson (2015), might affect social change, if the standards to evaluate reasonableness based on this decision replace those of the decision in Graham v. Connor (1989).

To prepare:

  • Complete a case law analysis for the two U.S. Supreme Court cases:
    • Graham v. Connor 490 U.S. 386 (1989)
    • Kingsley v. Hendrickson 744 F. 3d 443 (2015)
  • Determine which U.S. Supreme Court decision you agree with and why.
  • Consider the Learning Resources and other scholarly references that support your opinion about the Supreme Court decision you agree with.
  • Consider if and how Kingsley v. Hendrickson (2015) may contribute to social change. For example, will the court decision affect how law enforcement uses force and how the public perceives this use of force?

By Day 3

Post a response in which you do the following:

  • Explain which U.S. Supreme Court decision you agree with the most and why. Support your comments with scholarly content and sources.
  • Explain how you think the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Kingsley v. Hendrickson 744 F. 3d 443 (2015) may contribute to social change (e.g., affect the actions of law enforcement officers). Support your comments with scholarly content and sources.

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