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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Fleeing Police Doesn't Signify Guilt

Image: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Fleeing Police Doesn't Signify Guilt

People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police as he ran away April 4, 2015. (Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 23 Sep 2016 04:55 PM

A Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling this week said a black man running from police does not signify guilt; it may merely mean he does not wish to be racially profiled.

The Supreme Judicial Court made their ruling as part of a case involving Jimmy Warren, who ran from police after being stopped in December 2011 following a home invasion in the neighborhood.

Warren ran into a park holding the right side of his pants, officer Christopher Carr alleged. Carr caught up with Warren in a nearby backyard and arrested him. An unregisterd gun was found in the front yard, and Warren was charged with unlawful possession and convicted in a lower court.

The higher court ruled to overturn the conviction after Warren’s lawyer argued the gun evidence should be thrown out because police didn’t have the basis to question Warren. The fact that Warren ran from police had been used to establish reasonable suspicion of guilt, but the court argued that other factors like racial profiling could lead black people to run from police.

Flight can still be used to establish suspicion, but not as the sole factor in doing so.

“Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity,” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wrote.

Further mention was made by the court of reports showing that racial profiling was conducted at a disproportionate level in Boston and other large cities, although these studies were never introduced into evidence by the defense.

The Boston Police Department found the court’s decision “very troubling” because it took these studies into account without expert analysis or testimony, CNN reported.

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A Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling this week said a black man running from police does not signify guilt; it may merely mean he does not wish to be racially profiled.
massachusetts supreme judicial court, fleeing, police, guilt
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2016-55-23
Friday, 23 Sep 2016 04:55 PM
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