Brief Fact Summary. Lewis (Respondent) was a passenger on a motorcycle that was chased by police. When the motorcycle stopped, the police cruiser did not. Respondent was hit and killed at the scene.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Government conduct that “shocks the conscience” and violates the “decencies of civilized conduct” also violates the Fourteenth Amendment. In emergency situations, the government is afforded greater leeway.
When the State takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will, the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and general well-being.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the officer violate substantive due process when he caused the death of Respondent during a high-speed chase?
Held. No. The police officer did not intend to harm or worsen the plight of Respondent.
Discussion. The police officer was doing his job and using his best judgment at the time of the pursuit. He did not intend to kill Respondent or harm him in any way. If he had, then the conduct would be “shocking” and held to violate the United States Constitution.