UC Law Constitutional Quarterly


In the United States, police officers are granted a license to use lethal force and are subsequently exonerated from personal criminal liability for fatal killings, particularly when the victim is an African American. This Article advances the normative claim that the Court’s death penalty jurisprudence, including the “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” Clause of the Eighth Amendment, protects the victims of police homicides. Further, it contends that the police use of lethal force against African Americans constitutes “lynching”—a State-sponsored act of terror that supports systemic racism. Finally, it posits that the Constitution mandates that the police use of lethal force be abolished—a transformative solution to save Black lives and to achieve equal justice.