Law Enforcement Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a claim of excessive force and negligent hiring. Plaintiff hired a Law Enforcement Expert Witness to provide testimony. Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts: In this case (Preston v. Boyer et al – United States District Court – Western District of Washington – November 12th, 2019), the plaintiff Robert Preston alleges that the defendant, Ryan Boyer, a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), used excessive force against him in July 2014 and that Snohmish County was negligent when it hired and retained him.  The plaintiff hired Scott DeFoe (Law Enforcement Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant claims that Mr. DeFoe is not qualified to provide an opinion about Washington State hiring standards for law enforcement officers.  In addition, the defendant claims that Mr. DeFoe’s opinions will not help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine the facts.

The defendant claims that Mr. DeFoe does not have any knowledge, experience, or training about Washington State or Snohomish County hiring standards and practices, stating that he was never a law enforcement office in Washington and has never worked with the organizations that set up the industry standards in Washington.

The court opines that Mr. DeFoe is qualified to offer testimony in this case.  The court notes that Mr. DeFoe has a bechelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and was a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and held a supervisory position for the last 14 years.  In addition, the court states that Mr. DeFoe served for 5 years as an LAPD Oral Board Member, when he conducted 250 preliminary interviews with police officer applicants.  Also, he conducted a number of use of force audits when he was a member of the LAPD Rampart Division Corruption Task Force.

The court opines that although Mr. DeFoe has not worked in Washington State or conducted a background investigation himself, he has the relevant experience that would qualify him as an expert case.

The defendant also argues that Mr. DeFoe’s opinions should not be admitted because they are not rooted in standards that were established by Washington statute, code, or agency.  The court opines that Mr. DeFoe bases his opinions on his education, training, and experience, which includes the training he received about background investigations, his five years as a lAPD Oral Board Member, and his participation on the LAPD Rampart Division Task Force.

Thus, the court concludes that Mr. DeFoe’s opinions have a reliable basis and that they would assist the trier of fact in determining whether the defendant negligently hired Sgt. Boyer.

Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Scott DeFoe is denied.