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Durham v. State

    Citation. 22 Ill.549 U.S. 1298, 127 S. Ct. 1858, 167 L. Ed. 2d 350 (2007)

    Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Durham (Defendant) a deputy game warden, was convicted of assault and battery of man suspected of illegal fishing.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An officer may use deadly force if necessary against any suspect physically resisting arrest, even if the subject of the arrest only constitutes a misdemeanor.

    Facts. The Defendant, a deputy game warden, attempted to arrest a man suspected of illegal fishing. He pursued the suspect in his boat and latched onto his anchor chain. The suspect resisted arrest by beating the Defendant about the head with an oar. The Defendant then shot the suspect in the arm.

    Issue. Can an officer use deadly force against a suspect who is physically resisting arrest, even though the subject of the arrest is a misdemeanor?

    Held. Yes. Reversed.
    An officer may not use deadly force, or inflict great bodily harm, against a person suspected of a misdemeanor in order to accomplish an arrest if the suspect is merely fleeing.

    If the misdemeanor suspect physically resists arrest, an officer need not retreat and may use necessary force to repel the resistance, including deadly force if absolutely necessary.

    In the instant case, the suspect physically resisted arrested by attacking the Defendant in the head with an oar. Therefore, the Defendant was justified in using potentially deadly force to repel suspect’s resistance.


    Discussion. Though the court maintains a higher threshold in the use of deadly force for a misdemeanor arrest, as opposed to suspected felony offenses, it still provides for deadly force as a last resort where the suspect actively resists arrest.


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