Excessive Force Expert Witness’s Testimony Limited to Police Department Standards


In Kennedy v. Schlosser the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa has ruled that a civil rights expert witness could only testify about police practices and procedures, his area of expertise. The Court concluded:

In summary, it appears that Waller is qualified, by training and experience, to render appropriate opinions regarding police practices and procedures. For example, Waller may testify regarding the use of force and proper police procedures, including the use of a baton. Waller will not be permitted to testify, however, regarding whether the officers’ actions in this case constituted excessive and unnecessary force. Similarly, Waller is prohibited from testifying that the officers failed to comply with Dubuque Police Department practices requiring the employment of minimal force. While Waller can testify generally regarding the nationally accepted standards of police practice, as found in The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, he may not render any opinion regarding whether the officers in this case were compliant with those standards. Finally, whether the Dubuque Police Department conducted an internal affairs investigation following the incident is irrelevant. In short, the jury must hear the evidence, decide what testimony to believe, and then determine whether the force employed by the officers in arresting Kennedy was excessive.