Citation. Tennessee v. Garner, 1984 U.S. LEXIS 1441, 465 U.S. 1098, 104 S. Ct. 1589, 80 L. Ed. 2d 122, 52 U.S.L.W. 3687 (U.S. Mar. 19, 1984)
Brief Fact Summary. A police officer shot and mortally wounded a fleeing suspect.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. “A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead.”ť
Police Officers Hymon and Wright were dispatched to answer a prowler call. Hymon investigated while Wright radioed the dispatcher. At the back of the house, Hymon encountered a prowler. His flashlight revealed the prowler’s hands, which held no weapon, and by his own admission, Hymon was “reasonably sure”ť that the suspect was unarmed. He also figured the suspect was in his late teens. When Hymon identified himself as a police officer, the suspect, Garner, attempted to climb a fence. Hymon shot Garner, hitting him in the back of the head. He subsequently died on the operating table.
Hymon’s use of deadly force was permitted under Tennessee law and Department policy.
Garner’s father, the respondent, brought suit for violations of his son’s constitutional rights. The District Court ruled in favor of the State. The Court of Appeals reversed. Issue.
Whether the use of deadly force was permitted under the Constitution in this burglary case.