Police Procedures Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed an excessive force claim against the defendant.  Plaintiff hired a Police Procedures Expert Witness to provide testimony on her behalf.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony, which was granted in part and denied in part by the court.

Facts:  This case (Sloan v. Phelps County, Missouri et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Missouri – March 9th, 2018) involves a claim of excessive force.  The plaintiff (Sloan) claims that the defendant (Long) used excessive force by deploying his Taser on her in the course of her arrest.  Sloan hired Police Procedures Expert Witness Michael D. Lyman, Ph.D. to provide testimony.  Long has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Lyman.

Discussion:  Dr. Lyman has been a college professor for over 30 years teaching and researching in the area of policing, has authored numerous books and articles on different aspects of police operations.  He was also a certified generalist police instructor for three years and a criminal investigator for eleven years.  Last, he was certified by Taser International to be a teacher on using a Taser.

Using the “objectively reasonable” standard as well as professional policing guidelines, Dr. Lyman opined that there was evidence that the Sloan was compliant, that Long had other viable force options, that Long should have given plaintiff a verbal warning before using the Taser, and that Long’s use of the Taser was unnecessary, punitive, and showed no objectively reasonable purpose.  Last Dr. Lyman, opines that the deputies departed from nationally recognized standards.

Long argues that Dr. Lyman’s testimony should be excluded because he conveys a legal conclusion; makes credibility determinations, and that the opinion regarding the handcuffing of the plaintiff is irrelevant.

The court opines that whether the force used in the course of making an arrest was excessive is an issue of law, which is not allowed under the Daubert standard.  In addition, the court rules that Dr. Lyman will not be permitted to testify that the defendant’s conduct was not necessary, not reasonable, or punitive.  Thus, the court rules that Dr. Lyman may provide testimony on national standards as well as opinions on how these standards should be shown in hypothetical situation, but he may not opine as to the correct version of events in this matter or provide any ultimate conclusions of whether Long acted reasonably during the encounter with Sloan.

In addition, the court will allow Dr. Lyman from testifying that nationally accepted police procedures embrace the “objectively reasonable” standard.  Last, any credibility determinations and factual conclusions are for the jury to determine, not Dr. Lyman.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Michael D. Lyman, Ph.D. is granted in part and denied in part