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8 Colum. J. Race & L. 1 (2017-2018)

handle is hein.journals/cjoral8 and id is 1 raw text is: 








               DISMANTLING THE TRAP:
UNTANGLING THE CHAIN OF EVENTS IN EXCESSIVE
                    FORCE CLAIMS

                    By Cara McClellan'

       In the wake of repeated police shootings of unarmed
Black men  and women, police departments across the country
are focusing on de-escalation. Yet federal courts reviewing
Fourth  Amendment excessive force violations are often
unwilling to take into account how  an officer's pre-seizure
conduct  may  have affected the need to use force during a
civilian encounter. I argue that as part of the Graham  v.
Connor  reasonableness analysis, courts revtewing excessive
force claims should consider prior police conduct that impacted
the need  for force when the officer predictably causes the
civilian to respond by employing an overly aggressive tactic. I
provide examples of how traditional principles of causation in
tort law  could apply  and provide  a  workable approach.
Moreover, I argue that the severity of the crime provides context
that is essential to interpreting causation in the entire chain of
events that occurs during the police-civilian interaction.

             We  were coming  from playing basketball and
       some of us weren't even wearing  our t-shirts. [The
       police] started patting us down like we're gonna have a
       gun in our shorts. One of the police officers actually
       took the food I just bought and threw it down and was
       like 'You got an issue with what I just did?' I guess they
       were trying to start an issue where they could arrest
       me.  I wanted to talk back. I actually started talking
       back, but then I just got quiet. 'Cause I'm basically
       falling for their trap. If they want me to be locked up




       1 Cara McClellan is a Skadden Fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense
and Educational Fund. B.A. 2010, Yale College; M.S.Ed 2012, University of
Pennsylvania; J.D. 2015, Yale Law School.

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