Lethal Force on Krypton

In the Krypton episode “The Rankless Initiative,” Lyta-Zod has taken the command of the 4th Squad of the Military Guild.

Zod’s troops arrested civilians en mass in a military crackdown in the search for domestic terrorists.

Kol-Da, one of the Sagitari officers, shot a handcuffed civilian under the claim she feared for her safety.

Zod promptly arrested Da for murder, telling her she would have a trial to defend herself, something Da denied the summarily executed prisoner.

It is not surprising a science fiction show is not afraid to tackle the issue of police shooting unarmed prisoners. If Krypton had a Constitution similar to that of the United States, Zod was absolutely correct to arrest Kol-Da for murder.

All people in the United States have a Fourth Amendment right to be free of the use of excessive force by the police. The use of lethal force is a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment, because taking a life is a “seizure.” As such, the test for whether a reasonable officer may use deadly force is if under the totality of the circumstances, the officer “had probable cause to believe that there was a threat of serious physical harm to [himself] or to others.” McHenry v. City of Ottawa, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157369, at *16 (D. Kan. Sep. 26, 2017).

There is also a larger issue: the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 11, 105 S. Ct. 1694, 1701 (1985).

Kol-Da claimed she feared for her safety as the reason to shoot a “Rankless.” The fact the person was unarmed and handcuffed clearly shows her actions were unreasonable, because there was no threat of serious physical harm. Moreover, the victim was a prison who was not even trying to escape, let alone arrested for any “felony” other than being Rankless. There was no probable cause for a reasonable belief the prisoner was a danger to others. Murdering him was a gross violation of his civil rights.

Lyta-Zod was justifiably enraged by the conduct of Kol-Da and right to arrest her. Whether a future episode include the trial of the officer remains to be seen.