New positive U.S. Supreme Court use of force ruling may change federal lawsuit paradigm for officers

From a recent courts’ rulings site published this week:

“Police expert Dr. Ron Martinelli, Temecula (CA), was the prevailing expert in what will go down as a landmark United States Supreme Court use of force/deadly force decision of White v. Paulie, 580 U.S. ___ (2017). A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday that a police officer who arrived at the scene of a confrontation and then killed the suspect without having heard other officers issue a warning is protected from a lawsuit.This decision makes it much harder to sue the police, because almost all confrontations have unique features. Attorney Mark Jarmie, Santa Fe (NM), was the prevailing defense attorney in this case. Law enforcement officers, risk managers and agency/officer defense attorneys are encouraged to read this brief ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

It is quite rare that a police practices expert receives a unique honor and distinction of being the prevailing expert in any police-related case – especially a positive one for law enforcement – ruled upon by the highest court in the land. The White v. Paulie case is a relatively short case decision by our U.S. Supreme Court. It is even more rare that this was a unanimous decision by the justices; since they must consider facts that are most beneficial to the plaintiff. If you read the case decision, what you won’t find is that a couple of the “facts” they considered were not facts whatsoever. If fact, as the police/forensic expert in this case, I was able to forensically prove that only State Trooper White fired his weapon (that killed suspect Paulie); after Paulie had pointed and possibly fired his weapon at the troopers (empty round in revolver chamber, but no bullet ever recovered in the rural desert environment).

How the lower court initially decided against the New Mexico State Troopers is a mystery to me, since there was more than a preponderance of evidence justifying Trooper White’s use of deadly force in defense of his and his partner’s life.

While Attorney Mark Jarmie and I are given credit for this victory and no doubt a positive landmark decision for law enforcement; readers should know that this was truly a team effort involving Mark’s legal team and the Martinelli & Associates Forensic Death Investigations Team who investigated this case. As is often the case, it is the outstanding, tireless work of dedicated forensic professionals working behind the scene that make the “up front” people look good. I am so proud and humbled to be blessed with the opportunity of working with legal, law enforcement and forensic professionals like Mark Jarmie (Jarmie & Associates, Santa Fe, NM), the New Mexico State Attorney’s Office and the Martinelli & Associates, Inc. FDIT staff.