Law Enforcement Expert Witness Partially Allowed

Plaintiffs sued after decedent relative died while in the custody of defendant.  Defendant hired a Law Enforcement Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiffs filed a motion to exclude, which was partially denied and partially granted by the court.

Facts:  This case (Ajibade et al v. Harris et al – United States District Court – Southern District of Georgia – June 11th, 2018) involves the death of an inmate at a correctional detention center.  The decedent died after being tasered in the groin area by the deputies.  The decedent’s estate filed suit on a number of constitutional grounds.  The defendants subsequently hired Darrell Ross (Law Enforcement Expert Witness) to provide testimony on their behalf.  The plaintiffs filed a motion to exclude the testimony of this expert witness.

Discussion:  Ross plans to testify on his knowledge and experience of law enforcement policy and procedure, in-custody deaths, and officer use of force incidents.  Ross provides three opinions: 1) The sheriff’s office administrators have not resigned their responsibility in implementing and developing policies; 2) The administrators have trained their officers to commensurate with their correctional duties; and 3) a pattern of overuse of the TASER does not exist at the detention center.  The plaintiffs argue that Ross’s opinion provide little value to the jury and invades the province of the court and that his opinions are not reliable.  Thus, they allege, Ross’s testimony should be excluded.

The court opines that it is not able to agree with the plaintiffs’ contention that Ross’s opinion will not help the jury in this case.  The court states that Ross’s opinion will supply important and significant information that is outside the common knowledge of the jury.  The plaintiffs also argue that Ross’s testimony intrudes on the province of the jury by deciding issues that should be only reserved for the jury.  The court partially agrees with the plaintiffs on this matter.  The court will not limit Ross’s expertise in providing an opinion that is based on his understanding of the facts and knowledge of standard law enforcement practices and in-custody deaths.  In addition, the court opines that Ross will not be allowed to offer legal conclusions to the jury.

Last, the plaintiffs allege that Ross’s expert testimony is not reliable because 1) He appeared to skim the information in the case in order to form his opinion; 2) He did not apply his own research to the facts of the case; 3) his consulting work motivates his scholarship; and 4) his opinions on taser usage shows a reluctance to adapt his predetermined opinions.  The court disagrees with the plaintiff that these opinions by Ross show that his testimony is not reliable.  The court notes that these arguments go to the weight of the testimony and not their admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Darrell Ross is granted in part and denied in part.