Name: Tennessee v. Garner
Citation: No. 83-1035, 83-1070 (1985)
Facts: On October 3, 1974, Memphis Police Officers Hymon and Wright were dispatched to answer a “prowler inside call.” When the police arrived at the scene, a neighbor gestured to the house where she had heard glass breaking and that someone was breaking into the house. While one of the officer radioed that they were on the scene, the other officer went to the rear of the house hearing a door slam and saw someone run across the backyard. The suspect, Edward Garner stopped at a 6-feet-high fence at the edge of the yard and proceeded to climb the fence as the police officer called out “police, halt.” The police officer figured that if Garner made it over the fence he would get away and also “figured” that Garner was unarmed. Officer Hymon then shot him, hitting him in the back of the head. In using deadly force to prevent the escape of Garner, Hymon used the argument that actions were made under the authority of the Tennessee statute and pursuant to Police Department policy. Although the department’s policy was slightly more restrictive than the statute it still allowed the use of deadly force in cases of burglary. Garner’s fathers’ argument was made that his son was shot unconstitutionally because he was captured and shot possessing ten dollars that he had stolen and being unarmed showing no threat of danger to the officer. The incident was then reviewed by the Memphis Police Firearm’s Review Board and presented to a grand jury of the Federal District Court and the Court of Appeals. Neither of these presentations of the incident took any action.
Procedure: Garner’s father brought the action the police officer took in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, looking for violations that were made of Garner’s constitutional rights. The complaint was alleged that the shooting of Garner violated the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. After a three day trial, the District Court entered judgement for all defendants. It dismissed the claims against the defendants as being the mayor and Officer Hymon and the Police Department as being the director for lack of evidence. Hymon’s actions were then concluded to being constitutional by being under the Tennessee statute. The Court of Appeals affirmed with regard to Hymon, finding that he had acted accordingly to the Tennessee statute....