As some of you may know, a person by the name of Thurman Blevins was fatally shot in Minneapolis a few days ago. My understanding is that police were called to a location where an individual reportedly was wandering the streets, intoxicated, and firing a handgun. When police arrived they found a man (who presumably matched the descript.) holding a gun. This man, Mr. Blevins, took off running with the gun, and police gave chase, repeatedly telling Mr. Blevins to stop, and "put your hands up". They also threatened to shoot. But Mr. Blevins kept running, all the while saying "why are you chasing me? Leave me alone" - with the gun still in his hand. The chase lasted about 40 sec (?) and ended with the police opening fire on Mr. Blevins, who died shortly thereafter.
First thing is, the Minneapolis PD says that, according to one report I read, were forced to fire at Blevins "only after he pointed a gun and fired at the officers.” If you watch the bodycam vid the PD released, you can see this is simply not true. Mr. Blevins' back is to the police officer when he fired the first shot, and Mr. Blevins never fired.
In '85, the SCOTUS found that LE can not use deadly force upon a fleeing suspect, unless that person posed a threat:
Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985), is a civil case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that, under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, the officer may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless "the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others." It was found that use of deadly force to prevent escape is an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment, in the absence of probable cause that the fleeing suspect posed a physical danger.
So, the first Q for me - is whether or not someone who is fleeing police while armed, but not firing nor pointing the firearm anywhere, poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.
I can see arguments on both sides. Yes - he has a gun, which he has already fired. No - although he has a gun, he is running away and not currently threatening to shoot.
Then comes the 2nd Q for me - if it's no, what then are the officers supposed to do?