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Tale of the tape

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in favor of a Georgia sheriff's deputy who rammed a car after a high speed chase, causing a spectacular crash that left the 19-year-old driver paralyzed.

Today's decision relied, in an unusual way, on videotape of the chase recorded in the deputy's car. It was so central to the ruling that the court took the unusual step of posting it on its Web site. To the majority of the court, the tape shows the driver putting at risk the safety of others on the road. "We see him racing down narrow two-lane roads, in the dark of night, at speeds shockingly fast," said Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority, which found that no jury could have concluded anything but that he put innocent members of the public at risk.

In the sole dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said the tape showed just the opposite. It shows other drivers pulling over in response to the police sirens and doesn't even show any close calls. Stevens said today's decision approves the use of deadly force by police -- here, by ramming a car at very high speeds -- for a crime of speeding.