Court case being analyzed: GRAHAM v. CONNOR (1989)
1. Provide a general definition of case law: When someone claims that he/she is victim of excessive police force, the case should be assessed via objective criteria and not standard substantive processes of the police work.
2. Summarize the background of the case: The case included the court procedures between Graham and Connor, the first being a citizen and the second one being a police officer. Under his attempt to deal with upcoming hypoglycemia and its unusual behavioral results, Graham became a suspect for Connor. The episode between Graham and Connor ended with Graham having sustained multiple injuries from Connor and his partners. Graham led the case to the local court, where the decision was in favor of Connor, explaining that in this case there was use of force as part of a good-faith effort to maintain and restore discipline. The same decision was taken from the Court of Appeals. The United States Supreme Court decided that the cases for excessive use of force should be judged in a specific constitutional provision.
Court case being analyzed: KINGSLEY v. HENDRICKSON (2015)
1. Provide a general definition of case law: The use of excessive force should be examined by objective rules, including the intention to harm and the state actors’ subjectively proven reckless use of force.
2. Summarize the background of the case: When Kingsley, as a prisoner, refused to follow the repeated instructions of the officers with regard a paper in his cell’s light, the officers tried to move him to another cell. Under these circumstances, Kingsley still did not cooperate with the officers of the institution, resulting to the use of force from the behalf of the prison’s personnel for moving Kingsley in his new cell. Kingsley filled charges against officer Hendrickson and others for the use of excessive force. The District Court claimed that there was not unreasonable and excessive use of force against Kingsley. When Kingsley filled to the Appeals’ Court. the same decision was taken. The Supreme Court evaluated the possibility of malicious intention, except for the possibility of the actual use of excessive force.
In my opinion, I agree with the first Court’s decision. The use of force cannot be assessed through subjective criteria, individual or team based. The common strategy for evaluating the use of force would assist both the abusers and the victims understand what the limits and the conditions are, and when they are moving out of them.
Contribution to social change
The case of Kingsley v. Hendrickson can contribute to changes in training and education of the officers in understanding when the use of force is reasonable and controlled, rather than excessive and unreasonable.
Cornell University Law School. (n.d.). Kingsley v. Hendrickson. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from
Find Law for Legal Professionals. (n.d.). Graham v. Connor.
Legal Dictionary. (2017). Graham v. Connor. https://legaldictionary.net/graham-v-connor/
Even though there is no single universally agreed-upon definition of force, I would agree with the graham v.connor (1989 Supreme Court decision on when the law enforcement officers’ use of force is justified. According to Ross (2002), the use of force by law enforcement officers is essential and is permitted under specific situations such as in defense of groups or individuals and self-defense. Conditions are generally different, and the law enforcement officers would risk letting the ordinary citizen determine the reasonableness of using force. For instance, in a potentially threatening circumstance, the law enforcement officer should quickly respond, even by applying force to restore the problem. Moreover, law enforcement officers are trained to make sound judgments when a crisis requires force to bring situations to order (McCamman & Cu, 2017). But the law enforcement officers should only use the force necessary to mitigate an incident, make an arrest or protect themselves or others from harm. The officers have enough intelligence to determine the amount of force to apply.
The U.S. Supreme court decision of Kingsley v. Hendrickson 744 F. 3d 443 (2015) may constitute a social change to a greater extent. According to the Community Relations Service (CRS), allowing the ordinary citizen to justify when the law enforcement officers should use force creates police-citizen conflict that threatens the peaceful co-existence in the community (Hamid Sein, 2022). Moreover, the decision may limit law enforcement officers from defusing a situation before it gets out of control. On the other hand, ordinary citizens will be granted too many powers that create chances for a police-citizen fight. Further, the decision by the court may also build untrustworthy citizens and create a hostile environment for civilians (Shannon, 2016). According to the Institute of Criminal Justice Education, determining the reasonableness of using force by citizens increases liability risks. This is because if law enforcement officers allow ordinary citizens to assess the reasonableness of using force, the wrongdoers can create significant social change.
Shannon, J. A. (2016). Reasonableness as Corrections Reform in Kingsley v. Henrickson. Loy. L. Rev., 62, 577.
Fayz, M. C. (1989). Graham v. Connor: The supreme court clears the way for summary dismissal of section 1983 excessive force claims. Wayne L. Rev., 36, 1507.
Ross, D. L. (2002). An assessment of Graham v. Connor, ten years later. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management.
McCamman, M., & Culhane, S. (2017). Police body cameras and us: Public perceptions of the justification of the police use of force in the body camera era. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 3(2), 167.
Hamid, A. G., & Sein, K. M. (2022). Combating Terrorism and the Use of Force Against a State: A Relook at the Contemporary World Order. In ASEAN International Law (pp. 53-74). Springer, Singapore.
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