Emory University Officers Use of Force Legal Discussion

Sean Bell, a 23-year-old African-American, and two other friends were leaving Bell’s bachelor party at a strip club on November 25, 2006, when they were shot by a group of undercover detectives who had been monitoring the club. More than 50 shots were fired at the car containing the three men.

Research the circumstances of the case and consider the officers’ thought process leading up to the shootout.

  • Was the officers’ use of force legal under Tennessee v. Garner (1985)? If yes, why? If no, why not?
  • Explain with reference to case law whether or not the suspect had the right to resist the stop and whether the suspect could use force to resist the stop.
  • Did the officers who shot the suspect have a reasonable belief that other officers were in danger? Explain.
  • Was the use of force by the officers excessive under Graham v. Conner (1989)? Why?
  • If you were an officer in a similar situation, and had been indicted, would you opt for a bench trial or jury? Explain your choice.

Support your responses with adequate research and supporting data. Review and comment on the submissions of at least two of your classmates by the end of the week.

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