Reprinted by special permission of Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern University Law Review Vol. 102, No.3
In this 2008 law review article, Rachel A. Harmon meticulously demonstrates the inadequacy of current law regarding police use of force, which she characterizes as indeterminate and incomplete. She argues that the Garner, Graham, and Scott Supreme Court cases provide unprincipled and sometimes misleading guidance to the lower courts, as well as to police officers, juries and the public at large. Harmon argues that we should adopt the criminal law's "justification defense" framework, which requires imminence, necessity, and proportionality for an act of violence to be considered lawful. Adapting these elements to the context of police use of force would provide a clearer and more theoretically complete method of analysis for cases involving police violence.