Cooking Protestors Alive: The Excessive-Force Implications of the Active Denial System

By: Brad Turner

The Active Denial System (ADS) is unlike any other nonviolent weapon: instead of incapacitating its targets, it forces them to flee, and it does so without being seen or heard. Though it is a promising new crowd-control tool for law-enforcement, excessive-force claims involving the ADS will create a Fourth Amendment jurisprudential paradox. Moreover, the resolution of that paradox could undermine other constitutional principles—like equality, fairness, and free speech. Ultimately, the ADS serves as a warning that without legislation, American jurisprudence may not be ready for the next generation of law-enforcement technology and the novel excessive-force claims sure to follow.

Cite: 11 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 332


  1. Special thanks to Jonathan Kelley, Professors Griffin and Magat, and all the hard working staff at DLTR. I could not have done it without you!

  2. Two thoughts – 1) a better comparison between the ADS and other tools in the crowd control arsenal would be a comparison between the ADS and the “pepperball gun” (a paintball gun using balls filled with CS or CN powder rather than paint). This would have been a better choice than CS spray (IMHO) as the balls could have been used to render the area in which the students were sitting “less comfortable” to occupy by saturating the pavement and grass with CS / CN powder and then simply hosed off later. 2) In reading the article I’m questioning the seizure aspect of your argument. If the intent of LE is simply to dispirse the crowd (setting aside the “reasonableness of the decision to disperse the crowd for a moment) – then does this constitute a seizure? I would think not. That latter thought might be worth another article!

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