At the time, the short, slightly built teenager was scaling a fence attempting to flee. Hymon knew the suspect was unarmed, and that the only threat he posed was one of escape. When Garner's lifeless body was searched later, all that was found was ten dollars he had stolen from a nearby house.
At the time, Tennessee state law dictated that a police officer confronting a resisting or fleeing suspect "may use all the necessary means to effect the arrest" even when the suspect didn't pose a threat to others. Garner's father filed a federal civil rights suit against the Memphis PD that took eleven years to reach the US Supreme Court, which ruled that even where there is "probable cause to seize a suspect, an officer may not always do so by killing him. The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable."
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