Case Brief TENNESSEE, Appellant v. Cleamtee GARNER, etc., et al. MEMPHIS P471 U.S. 1 (1985)

CaseBrief: TENNESSEE, Appellant v. Cleamtee GARNER, etc., et al. MEMPHISP471 U.S. 1 (1985)

CaseBrief: TENNESSEE, Appellant v. Cleamtee GARNER, etc., et al. MEMPHISP471 U.S. 1 (1985)


Garner’sfather, the appellee-respondent, sued seeking damages after his son,a suspected burglar was shot and killed while escaping arrest. Thearresting officer, Elton Hymon, from the Memphis Police Departmentjustified his use of excessive force on the suspect, despite beingreasonably sure the suspect was unarmed, underage, and of slightbuild (Tennesseev. Garner,1985). The district court held that the officer acted within hisconstitutional mandate to use necessary force to stop a fleeingsuspect under the Tennessee statute. The Supreme Court reversed theruling and maintained the officer did not use reasonable force, andhence contravened the suspect’s constitutional rights contained inthe Fourth Amendment.

Facts:Hymon found Garner escaping from a suspected burglary incident. Heasked him to stop, but Garner attempted to jump over a fence. Hymonshot him at the back of his head, leading to Garner’s death. Duringthe incident, the officer had noted the suspect is not armed andreasonably believed him to be generally harmless.

Issues:Did the officer contravene the suspect’s rights under the FourthAmendment?

Rules FourthAmendment



Thefacts in the case demonstrate the correlation between restrainingfreedom and seizure under the Fourth Amendment and require the use of“reasonableness” which was not considered in Garner’s case.Similarly, the officer’s justification under the Tennessee Statuteis not constitutional since it does not compel officers to killsuspects in order to seize them. Additionally, the officer did notact in ‘reasonableness’ as expected when using excessive forceofficers must find probable cause in suspects’ potential to harmself, the officer, or other members of the society. Garnerdemonstrated neither of these. Hymon asserted to finding the suspectunarmed, young, and slightly built. He did not, at the time ofarrest, demonstrate potential to harm, or intent to cause harm to thepolice or others.


Thedecision of the district court was reversed and the officer found tohave contravened Garner’s constitutional rights under the FourthAmendment for failure to have reasonable cause for using excessiveforce.


Tennessee,Appellant V. Cleamtee Garner, Etc., Et Al. MemphisP 471U.S. 1 (1985)