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News Link • Criminal Justice System

Capital Punishment for Traffic Violations

•, By William Norman Grig
 That bit of ironic whimsy is now official policy for many police departments, where traffic stops for failure to wear a seat belt or other trivial violations can quickly escalate to the use of deadly force.

Last May, Florida resident Marlon Brown was pursued by a police officer who saw that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. After reaching a dead end, Brown left the car and fled on foot. By that time, three police vehicles were on his tail. Two of the officers stopped after Brown left his vehicle. Officer James Harris continued his pursuit in a grass lot, eventually running over the terrified man.

The city of DeLand pilfered $550,000 from local tax victims to pay off Brown’s family, while refusing to admit wrongdoing. The State Attorney for FLorida’s 7th Judicial District, R.J. Larizza, declined to file charges. A grand jury, acting on the principle of qualified immunity for state-licensed killers, refused to indict Harris.

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