Video Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant on a civil rights claim after his son was shot and killed defendant.  Plaintiff hired a Video Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude, which was granted by the court.

Facts: This case (Pettit v. Hill – United States District Court – Western District of Oklahoma – August 29th, 2018) involves a civil rights claim. In October 2015, Charles A. Pettit, Jr was shot and killed by Midwest City police officer James Hill.  Pettit’s father filed this civil rights action against the officer.  The plaintiff hired Video Expert Witness James K. Appleton to provide testimony on his behalf.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Appleton.

Discussion: Mr. Appleton, a legal consultant specializing in audio and video analysis and enhancement, offered seven opinions: 1) CJ did not point the gun at the office at any point during the video; 2) CJ was in a submissive pose; 3) Nothing in the video confirms the official account of the shooting; 4) CJ turned his back on the officer in an attempt to flee the situation; 5) A true and accurate copy of the squad car video has not been provided; 6) At no point did CJ pull his weapon; and 7) The video was exported at least four times.

The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Appleton is not qualified to present his opinions, that he did nothing to assess the reliability of the correctness of his opinions, and that Mr. Appleton’s personal opinion as to what the DashCam footage shows is unreliable, not helpful to the jury, and invades the province of the jury.  The plaintiff argues that Mr. Appleton bases his opinion on thirty years of analyzing video of behalf of various law enforcement agencies and district attorney offices across the United States.  The plaintiff also relays that Mr. Appleton’s opinions are the result of analysis of video based on years of proven enhancement techniques.

The court opines that the expert opinion of Mr. Appleton should be excluded as he is not qualified to offer any opinions regarding the use of force in this case.  The court continues by stating that Mr. Appleton does not have the knowledge skill, experience, training, or education to render his opinions.  In addition, the court opines that any opinions as to what is shown on the DashCam video are not proper expert opinions, and will not help the jury understand the evidence or to determine the fact in issue.  The court also opines that the jury will be capable of much determinations by watching the video.

Also, the court opines that any opinions about whether or not plaintiff’s counsel was given a true and accurate copy of the DashCam video and the number of times it was exported should be excluded as well as Mr. Appleton has not shown that these opinions are based on sufficient facts or data and are the product of reliable methods and principles.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of  James K. Appleton is granted.