Police Activities Expert Witness Opines on Weapons Discharge by Off-Duty Officer

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on July 19, 2016

Police Activities Expert WitnessThis case involves an off-duty police officer who was arrested for discharging his weapon while at a private residence. The Defendant claimed that he did not fire his weapon while he was at the property, and that the shots were fired by another individual at the residence with a different weapon. It was known that the two individuals were having a significant argument involving the Defendant’s wife at the time the shots were fired. A number of spent shell casings were found at the scene of the incident by investigators, and the dispute between which individual fired a weapon required further forensic testing to resolve.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please explain your experience examining shell casing and determining what gun was used?
  • 2. What kind of investigation should follow an arrest for illegal gunfire (shell case, gun testing etc.)?

Expert Witness Response E-009002

This is a straightforward review. I used to do this kind of testing for the FBI and state police, and I continue to do this type of consulting. It is certainly possible to determine if the shells came from the gun or not. Most guns have unique identifying features, and many degrees of information can be determined from the bullet, the area of impact, and any shell casings that are present. Also, each weapon’s barrel contains small ligatures and grooves, which, when a bullet is fired from them, make marks on the shell casing, which can be used as a means of identifying the make and model of gun. With the presence of ample physical evidence in this case that can be subjected to testing, it appears likely that a determination on which gun fired the shots can be definitively made.

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