Tennessee v. Garner
United States Supreme Court
471 U.S. 1 (1985)
In Memphis, Tennessee, police officers Elton Hymon and Leslie Wright responded to a nighttime home burglary. After the officers arrived at the residence, Wright radioed dispatch. Meanwhile Hymon went around to the rear of the house where he saw Edward Garner (defendant) running across the backyard. Garner stopped by a chain-link fence. Hymon called out, “Police, halt.” Hymon was able to see Garner and did not believe Garner had a weapon. Garner began to climb over the fence. Hymon fired his gun, and the bullet struck Garner in the back of the head. Garner later died at the hospital. A Tennessee statute provides that “if, after notice of the intention to arrest the defendant, [the defendant] either flee[s] or forcibly resist[s], the officer may use all the necessary means to effect the arrest.” Tenn. Code Ann. 40-7-108 (1982). The police review board and grand jury declined to take criminal or civil action against Hymon or the police department. Garner’s father sued Hymon, the police department, the director, the city, and the mayor in federal court, seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of Garner’s civil rights. The district court found for the defendants, and Garner’s father appealed. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case, reasoning that the killing of a fleeing suspect was a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment and was only constitutional if “reasonable.” The State of Tennessee intervened in the action to defend its law, and the United States Supreme Court granted the state’s petition for certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)
Dissent (O’Connor, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 168,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.