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Police officers have no liability for death resulting from high-speed chase

The Sixth Circuit ruled this month that two Redford Township police officers would not be liable for wrongful death as a result of their failure to discontinue a high speed chase in the dark.  Clayton Jones was killed when his car was struck by a fleeing motorist who had turned off his headlights in attempting to elude the officers.  The officers believed that the occupants of the Ford Taurus they were chasing might be suspects in a local armed robbery.  After turning off their headlights, the suspects ran several traffic lights at high speed before striking Jones' vehicle and killing him.  He was on his way to work.

Jones' family argued that standard police regulations and protocols require that a high-speed chase be terminated under these circumstances.  A high-speed chase in the dark through a populated area (traffic was described as "light") represents such a high danger to innocent persons that it's continuation is not warranted unless a known dangerous felon is being pursued.  The panel of Sixth Circuit judges who heard the case ruled that the behavior of the officers did not "shock the conscience" and was not clearly illegal at the time---therefore providing them with qualified immunity for the deprivation of Jones' civil and constitutional rights.

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