Case Study: Excessive Use of Police Force

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[. . .] " (Wiley, 2012, p.1) It was additionally noted by the Court that "the other Glick factors may be used to help infer wantonness." (Wiley, 2012, p.1) The Court stated specifically as follows:

"[E]qually relevant are such factors as the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates, as reasonably perceived by the responsible officials on the basis of the facts known to them, and any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response." (Wiley, 2012, p.1)

Wiley reports that Whitley "explicitly addressed and rejected the application of the less stringent deliberate indifference standard, which is used in the context of inmate claims of insufficient medical care. The Court stated that, in excessive force situations, a deliberate indifference standard does not adequately capture the importance of [competing] obligations, or convey the appropriate hesitancy to critique in hindsight decisions necessarily made in haste, under pressure, and frequently without the luxury of a second chance." (2011, p.1) In 1989 in the case of Graham v. Connor the Court held that a free citizen's "right to be free from excessive force 'in the course of making an arrest, investigatory stop, or other seizure of his person. & #8230; [is] properly analyzed under the [4]th Amendment's 'objective reasonableness' standard, rather than under a substantive due process standard [of Glick]. The subjective motivations of the officers, whether ill-intended or benevolent, are never a factor in the 4th Amendment's use-of-force analysis." (Wiley, 2012, p.1)

This standard is such that "invokes a balancing test, comparing the government's objectives with the citizen's rights. The reasonableness analysis requires the court to evaluate the totality of the circumstances, 'including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight'." (Wiley, 2011, p.1)

These factors are referred to as the 'Graham Factors'. The Graham analysis is such that defers to police officers in that the use of hindsight is prohibited in evaluating the actions of the police officer due to the decision-making capacity of the officer being impacted by the "uncertainty of the emergency circumstances. As well the Graham Factors give deference to the mistaken judgments of an officer and makes provision of 'substantial latitude to describe all the circumstances that led the officer to use force and to justify why a certain level of force was used in a given case, by the officer. It is important to note that "Graham states that reasonable force does not equate with the least amount of force possible. On the contrary, even if it appears later that the level of force applied was mistaken, [n]ot every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers & #8230; violates the [4]th Amendment." (Wiley, 2012, p.1) The 8th Circuit Court following Graham has stated as follows:

"[T]he appropriate inquiry is whether the officers acted reasonably, not whether they had less intrusive alternatives available. Officers must not avail themselves of the least intrusive means of responding to an exigent situation; they need only act within the range of conduct we identify as reasonable." (Wiley, 2011, p.1)

Summary and Conclusion

The literature reviewed in this study has informed the study that excessive use of police force may constitute police abuse. There are four factors that must be considered in the case of alleged police abuse including the need for application of force; the relationships between the need and the amount of force that was used; the relationship between the need and the amount of force that was used, the extent of injury inflicted, and whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously or sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm. The Fourth and Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution also protect the rights of the individual from police misconduct and abuse. Police misconduct and abuse has been addressed by the California state courts and the state is presently working to ensure that instances such as occurred in the Rodney King beating of 1991 do not occur in the future.


Burris, John L. (2012) Excessive Force/Brutality. Retrieved… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Case Study:

APA Format

Excessive Use of Police Force.  (2012, October 8).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Excessive Use of Police Force."  8 October 2012.  Web.  20 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Excessive Use of Police Force."  October 8, 2012.  Accessed May 20, 2019.