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Deadly force: some human and ethical considerations.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology
Publication Date
Volume
3
Issue
2
Pages
165–177
Identifiers
PMID: 7114021
Source
Medline

Abstract

The legal aspects surrounding the use of deadly force in the United States are changing in a significant way. Police may use deadly force only to protect themselves or other innocent persons from serious bodily injury or death. Appropriate force may be used to arrest a malefactor or a fugitive from jail or prison. The documented, excessive percentage of deaths to blacks and hispanics from "police intervention" is a festering sore in American society. Numerous groups are aroused by the situation and will force some sort of controls nationwide on the use of deadly force by police. The changing climate surrounding civilian use of deadly force is dramatic and worrisome. At present, retreat carried to the extreme is the prudent legal course for the civilian victim of attack to take. Deadly force may be prudently used only when faced with immediate, fatal attack. Ethical considerations do not, in this instance, mesh with the law as it seems to be diverging from the traditional common law concepts of self-defense and sanctuary in the home. The defence of dependents is an ethical imperative that may run counter to man-made laws. Ethical considerations must be given precedence especially since the history of the United States Supreme Court decisions clearly demonstrate that law and morality are not necessarily related.

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