Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



This analysis of police homicide and the Constitution leads to the conclusion that the present state laws are unconstitutional, not just in the common-law states, but in the Model Penal Code and"forcible felony" states as well.' The present laws of every state in the union deny police homicide victims fifth and fourteenth amendment rights to due process, allow the punishment of death to be imposed in a cruel and unusual fashion, and appear to deny equal protection to blacks. The only constitutional alternative apparent is to remove police homicide from the realm of punishment and confine justification for it to the self-defense doctrine, more properly called a defense-of-life doctrine. In short, the conclusion is that the police throughout the country should adopt the first section of the firearms policy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."