Page 20 - October 2021
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Expert testimony in use of force
The aggressive antipolice stance at COPA and a rubber-stamp approach by the Department have placed far too many Chicago Police Officers in a position where they must defend their use of force at a hearing be-
fore the Police Board. When an officer is involved in a situation where he or she
has to discharge their weapon, it has be-
come more and more common that COPA
will make a recommendation for discharge.
To be more direct, COPA believes that any cases in which an officer is required to use force is a per se violation of the use-of-force policy. We are then placed in a position where the officers have to first defend their actions in a statement at COPA. We have been generally successful in making our case that the officer’s actions were consistent with policy. However, if you sprinkle in any media coverage or simply their institutional bias against our officers, a so- ber decision is not made. Reason is not only absent — it is not even searched for. At this point, an officer will find him- self or herself before the Police Board. As we all know, these are nine people appointed by the mayor to decide the case. Sometimes it feels like Chicago Bears Coach Nagy has a bet- ter chance of keeping his job.
Once you hit the Police Board, the case will come down to
one simple fact question: In the totality of the circumstances, was the use of force justified and reasonable? The best way to prove or disprove this burden is through the use of expert witnesses. The City will go and find a tradition- al use-of-force expert who will invariably rule that the officer was not in conformity with the general orders. This expert will look to video, perceived distance and the specific actions of the officer. The expert will not look to human factors. The expert will ignore science, will discount basic motor and sensory functions of the hu- man body and will want to slow down videos and establish that the officer was out of policy. The reason is that once hu- man factors are introduced into the equation, the officer’s ac- tions become less problematic and more reasonable. We are not robots; we do not have the ability to hit pause or request a do-over. Every time a police officer makes that difficult de- cision to use deadly force, he or she is inundated with a mas- sive amount of information — some important, some not. He or she will also miss a massive amount of information, not because he or she is incompetent, but simply because he or she is a human being in a highly stressful and dynamic situa- tion. But alas, there is help out there, and it comes from some really smart and revolutionary people at the Forced Science
The Forced Science Institute is a group of doctors, psychol-
  The Law Firm of Grace & Thompson Specializes in Representing Chicago Police Officers
 James E. Thompson, Partner
Timothy M. Grace, Partner
We pride ourselves in maintaining a small-firm feel by treating each case with care and consideration.
Seasoned trial attorneys representing Chicago Police Officers in matters before the Chicago Police Board, Internal Affairs, COPA, Inspector General, and Civil and Criminal Courts.
The Law Firm of Grace & Thompson also provides professional legal services in other areas:
• Personal Injury
• Divorce
• Criminal and Civil Defense Litigation
 Contact us today for a free consultation! 312-943-0600 •
311 W. Superior Street, Suite 215 • Chicago, IL 60654

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