Turns out the experts defending cops in murder trials say exactly what they’re paid to say

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An officer fired a Taser at Kevin Piskura’s chest for 11 seconds. He went into cardiac arrest and later died. A consultant working for Taser wrote:

NOV. 1, 2011

… there is no support for speculations that the minimal amount of current and charge delivered into a human body by an X26 ECD discharge … is likely, or even medically or scientifically possible, to directly cause clinically significant adverse effects …

The family sued, and the case settled out of court.

Officers in Phoenix held Miguel Ruiz in a neck hold. Asked in court about the possible dangers of this type of restraint, a doctor testifying as an expert witness for the city said:

MAY 30, 2017

There are no short-term or long-term effects. It doesn’t cause brain damage or brain injury.

A jury found in favor of the officers.

In 2019, deputies shocked Kevin Niedzialek twice with a stun gun and pushed him facedown into the ground. After he died, a doctor hired by the county wrote:

JAN. 18, 2021

… we have found no scientific evidence … that a restraint position in a prone, chest-down, or prone hobbled position causes or contributes to asphyxiation or associated death.

The family sued, and the case is ongoing.

I can add an even more widely known example in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. When Chauvin was filmed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, the white cop was convicted of murder despite testimony from Barry Brodd, a use of force expert called by the defense. Brodd testified that Floyd was “actively resisting” and “struggling against the officers” for several minutes when being held in the prone position.

“A compliant person would have both their hands in the small of their back and just be resting comfortably versus like he’s still moving around,” Brodd said when shown a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Brodd claimed that holding the Black father in the prone position while he was handcuffed didn’t constitute a use of force because Floyd wasn’t in pain. “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” Brodd testified.

He later changed his story, admitting that the position Floyd was held in could inflict pain and that Chauvin’s response did not align with the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy.

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The Chauvin case is both an oddity in that the ex-cop was actually held criminally responsible for his actions and an example of the normality of police brutality that is systematically enabled. Another New York Times investigation—this time consisting of dozens of interviews and more than 6,000 pages of investigative, autopsy, police, and court records—found that even investigations launched by independent agencies can be flawed with bias.

When the Texas Rangers investigated the death of Kelli Leanne Page, a 46-year-old woman arrested on drug charges and allegedly beaten to death by guards when she banged a hairbrush against her cell door, Ranger Adam Russell said in notes he was inclined not to hold guards responsible for her death. When a medical examiner determined she died from a form of asphyxiation following a 390-pound guard pinning her down, Russell enlisted a retired medical examiner to back his thinking and testified that “something inside Kelli” had killed her. The guards were never charged, the Times reported.

And yet another New York Times investigation of 25 years of law enforcement and medical records found that police officers used a genetic trait found in one in 13 Black people to excuse beating Black suspects to death. That trait is sickle cell, which Floyd carried and was actually brought up in a failed motion to dismiss the case against Chauvin. 

“The fact that Mr. Floyd had sickle cell trait is significant, as well,” Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, wrote in the motion. “People suffering from sickle cell can develop high blood pressure in their lungs. This complication usually affects adults. Shortness of breath and fatigue are common symptoms of this condition, which can be fatal.

“Put simply, Mr. Floyd could not breathe because he had ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl and, possibly, a speedball,” Nelson wrote. “Combined with sickle cell trait, his pre-existing heart conditions, Mr.Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine most likely killed him.” Only a jury determined otherwise.

The problem is that many cases don’t make it to a jury thanks to these alleged experts. “Beyond the courtroom, the individuals and businesses have offered instruction to thousands of police officers and medical examiners, whose cause-of-death rulings often help determine legal culpability,” New York Times journalists wrote of their findings. “Lexipol, a Texas-based business whose webinars and publications have included experts from the network, boasts that it helped write policy manuals for 6,300 police departments, sometimes suggesting standards for officers’ conduct that reduce legal liability.”

So in short, experts defend police. Police pay companies for training and equipment. Companies pay to promote expert research, and experts defend police, and on and on. It doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the claim that police work mostly to protect and serve.

RELATED: Defense expert claims George Floyd should have been ‘resting comfortably’ with knee on his neck

RELATED: It’s not cops beating Black people to death. It’s the sickle cell trait, medical examiners allege





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