Fourth Amendment Balancing and its Disparate Impact


Nathaniel Pickett. Walter Scott. George Floyd.

These three Black men were each killed by police officers during the course of routine police stops. Nathaniel Pickett was stopped while walking home. Walter Scott was pulled over for an alleged broken taillight. George Floyd was arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. None of these actions warranted a death sentence. And yet, these men were killed.

The deaths of Nathaniel Pickett, Walter Scott, and George Floyd expose the extent of power and control the law gives police officers over Black bodies. Fourth Amendment law facilitates these kinds of deadly encounters by empowering police officers to force interactions with people based on lower levels of individualized suspicion.

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