This case involves a police pursuit of a man driving his sister to a hospital. The plaintiff, a thirty-three-year-old male, lived in a rural area. His sister, a diabetic, experienced significant stomach and chest pains, which prompted the plaintiff to drive her to the hospital. As he was driving, he ran three red lights and went thirty miles over the speed limit (the plaintiff was later acquitted of all traffic violations). Two police officers in a police vehicle pursued the plaintiff and his sister for over two miles. The plaintiff called 911, to inform the operator that he was driving his sister to the hospital and that there was a police vehicle pursuing them. Upon arriving at the hospital, the cops approached the plaintiff, ordering him to go on the ground. When the plaintiff refused to go on the ground, as was trying to remove his sister from the vehicle, both police officers drew their firearms and one of the officers struck the man with the barrel of his gun. With a laceration on his head, the police officers tried to handcuff the man, but he tried to explain that his sister was in the car. He resisted their efforts, but they eventually handcuffed and arrested him. The sister remained in the car for twenty minutes before she could get help, and the plaintiff brought suit against the police officers.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Were the police's actions excessive given the circumstances?
Expert Witness Response
In these types of cases, there are a number of factors that go into determining the reasonableness of the police officers’ actions. First, the police undoubtedly made some communications to their precinct and there may be recordings available to review. Also, the actions of the plaintiff, once he got out of the car, are important to analyze. Given the facts that he was acquitted of the traffic violations, and that he was at a hospital, it seems reasonable to assume that the officers should have considered the circumstances before taking any actions. Coupled with this, they should have attempted to communicate with the plaintiff, and exhausted all options (if there was no apparent danger) before using physicalities. Based on the facts, it appears as though the police officers acted improperly. As a police officer and detective for over thirty-five years, I feel confident that I can analyze the specifics of the case and determine the actions that should have been taken by the officers.