Excessive Use of Force by Police Leads to Paralysis, Permanent Injuries

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on November 11, 2020

Police Use of ForceThis case involves two internal affairs officers who were pursuing a suspect wanted on assault and weapons charges. During their pursuit, they located the plaintiff, who has no criminal history. They confronted and struck the plaintiff approximately 50 times, even though he complied with the officers’ instructions and did not fight back. He is now paralyzed from the neck down. In addition to his neck injuries, he suffered numerous broken teeth, a large laceration to his forehead and swelling of his skull. A recent CT scan also revealed a previously undiscovered brain aneurysm. The plaintiff’s counsel alleged the officers violated the plaintiff’s civil rights under 42 USC 1983.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with the proper steps and protocols for approaching a potential suspect to determine who they actually are?
  • 2. Please explain why you are qualified to review this case.

Expert Witness Response E-027188

I have 34 years of law enforcement experience. In short, I’ve trained and supervised police officers, conducted and supervised criminal and internal investigations, written police policy, served on the state correctional training commission, been the commander of the two largest state police training divisions, and oversaw all internal and criminal investigations for the division of corrections. Since, I have been certified by the state and U.S. District courts as an expert witness in police investigations, use of force, training, policy, and practices. In addition to working the road as a state trooper where I conducted hundreds of arrest and relative transports as trained, I was a field training officer responsible for training and evaluating new state troopers. Later in my career, I became the head of training for the state police and city police departments responsible for policy, training and necessary relative reforms. Finally, for four years as a state police detective sergeant, I conducted and or supervised all internal investigations for the division of corrections, to include investigations surrounding prisoner transports.

My initial thoughts are that in general, police officers are trained that once they arrest an individual, they are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the arrestee, mainly because you have revoked their liberty and opportunity to care for themselves. Also, I know of no police department that does not have a policy requiring the arresting and transporting officer (whoever has custody of the arrestee) to provide immediate medical attention to injuries. With the injuries being obvious and not tended to, this is gross negligence, maybe even criminal. Generally, department policy requires the responsible parties (transport officer and or arresting officer or supervisor) to seek and provide immediate medical treatment to the arrestee/inmate by a trained medical practitioner. This can be accomplished by onsite personnel, paramedics capable of responding to the location of the injured party or transporting the injured party to the nearest hospital or emergency treatment center.

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