Deadly/Excessive Force Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiff sued defendant for use of excessive force when defendant shot plaintiff.  The plaintiff hired a Deadly/Excessive Force Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude, which was granted by the court.

Fact: This case (Tompkins-Holmes v. Gualtieri et al – United States District Court – Middle District of Florida – March 30th, 2018) involves an excessive use of force claim when the plaintiff was shot by the defendant.  In order to prove her case, the plaintiff hired Deadly/Excessive Force Expert Witness, Kami Chavis.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert witness from testifying.

Discussion: Professor Chavis’s expert report discusses the sheriff’s policies and the defendants prior use of force as an example of the sheriff’s failure to train an supervise on the use of force.  The defendant argues that this testimony should be excluded because professor Chavis is not qualified, her methodology is flawed, and her testimony will not assist the trier of fact.

Regarding qualifications, Professor Chavis has never had any formal law enforcement training nor has she been a law enforcement officer.  She does however, teach criminal law at Wake Forest University School of Law and researches and publishes about police practices and accountability.  In addition, she has never served as an expert witness in a case.  The court ruled that she is minimally qualified to testify as an expert witness in this case because of her education and her publishing history.

The defendant also alleges that Professor Chavis’s testimony is unreliable because she does not provide an analysis of whether or not the defendant use excessive force nor did she explain how her experience had led her to those conclusions.  In addition, the defendant claims that the professor did not render an opinion in her report or deposition about whether previous uses of force were in excess.  The court ruled that Professor Chavis’s opinion should be excluded because she didn’t develop an opinion in her report that the shooting was unconstitutional nor did she say how she reached her conclusions.  The court thus ruled that her testimony should be excluded.

Last, the defendant maintains that Professor Charvis’s testimony will not be useful to the trier of fact in this case because her report deals with the training and policies of the sheriff’s office and not the shooting that took place.  The court agreed, stating that her expert testimony would not be useful to the trier of fact, and thus will be excluded.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Deadly/Excessive Force Expert Witness, Kami Chavis was granted.