Overcoming the challenges of modern video technology, NP Attorney Gary Nolan recently won an important use-of-force case on behalf of NEPBA Local 500. Through the presentation of expert testimony, Gary convinced an arbitrator to completely exonerate the officer.
The employer’s investigation lasted more than a year, and produced an internal affairs report hundreds of pages long, supported by video footage shot from several modern video surveillance cameras. Breaking down the camera angles to split second frames, Gary, together with the defensive tactics expert retained by NEPBA, was able to demonstrate that the force used was entirely reasonable, and, in fact, did not even constitute a knee strike, as was alleged by the employer.
The arbitrator made an important distinction when it comes to evaluating force actions such as knee strikes, etc., finding: “A ‘knee strike’ is not just any kind of blow using the knee. It is a term of art that covers several techniques for hitting an opponent on the front or side of the body with the knee. Knee strikes are rather complex, learned skills, the objective being to generate power from the torque of the body, the strength of large muscles, and sometimes from momentum, and to direct that power into the knee. Thus, a knee strike is manifestly an intentional act. It cannot occur by accident.”
The case is attached and is worth reading to get a sense of how these matters are viewed from an arbitrator’s perspective. Click below for a link to the decision.
This case was an example of the downfalls of modern technology when it comes to fast moving, use of force actions. Here, the employer discarded the testimony of every one of the eyewitnesses, including many of its own supervisors, present during the incident, and drew its own conclusions based on how it perceived the video footage after the fact. There is a great deal of pressure on employers to do this, and it is another reason why it’s important for unions to have legal and labor support systems willing to look beyond video footage, and who will seek opinions from credible, respected experts, in order to analyze force actions.Share