When Can a Police Officer Use Deadly Force During a Foot Chase?

Recently, a teenager and a 22-year old were fatally shot by Chicago police officers during foot chases. In the case of the 13-year-old, the Chicago Police Department has stated that bodycam footage shows he was holding a gun in his right hand. As he turned towards the police officer, he raised his empty hand, and the police officer shot him.

They later found the gun behind the fence a few feet from where he was killed. Only two days later, a 22-year old was fatally shot by a police officer after a foot chase. Surveillance video footage showed the suspect dropping what looks like a gun on the grass as the officer shot him. These cases demonstrate the challenges officers face when pursuing suspects on foot. Illinois’ groundbreaking criminal justice reform law has made it more difficult for police officers to justify the use of force, especially the use of deadly force.

The Use of Force in Foot Chases

Illinois's new criminal justice law addresses the use of force to prevent escapes by suspects. Once police officers have arrested someone and are in custody, they can use force, but not deadly force to prevent the suspect’s escape. The only time officers can use deadly force to prevent a suspect from escaping is to prevent great bodily harm or death to an officer or another person.

Police officers cannot use deadly force against a suspect trying to flee based on the danger that person poses to himself or herself unless the suspect is causing an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. Additionally, officers must consider whether deadly force is necessary based on the totality of the circumstances.

Chokeholds are Now Prohibited

In response to the death of George Floyd, the Illinois legislature limited the use of chokeholds and any type of restraint that has the possibility of causing asphyxiation. Police officers can no longer use chokeholds in any situation. Officers are not allowed to use any type of restraint above the shoulders that carry a risk of asphyxiation unless deadly force is justified in that scenario.

Limits on the Use of Rubber Bullets and Tear Gas

Police officers can no longer use kinetic impact projectiles like rubber bullets to target a suspect’s head, back, or pelvis. They cannot discharge these types of projectiles into a crowd or use any kind of irritant or chemical agent such as tear gas or pepper spray before they issue an order for the crowd to disperse. They also need to allow enough time and space for people to comply with their orders to disperse.

Contact a Schaumburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. You can see defense attorney Thomas Glasgow on local Chicago news when he fought to get a former police officer’s conviction vacated. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.

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