The police may use deadly force to shoot and kill a motorist who leads them on a reckless, high-speed chase, even if the suspect’s car is temporarily cornered, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In a unanimous decision, the justices threw out an “excessive force” claim brought against Arkansas police officers who chased a speeding car across the bridge into Memphis and shot the driver when he refused to give up.

In the past, the court had said police may use force to stop a fleeing motorist because he represents a danger to the public. But the law has been unclear on whether “deadly force” can be used against the occupants of a stopped car.

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