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Mental Health Crisis OIS

Ois ReconstructionVideo Analysis

An Arizona city's police force responds to a mother's emergency call for her son, Paul, who is having a mental health crisis and harming himself with a knife. Police attempt to subdue Paul in his apartment, but he gives chase through a nearby park until he is cornered. He darts through the nearest gate, shutting it as officers close in.

Once the nearest officer, Officer Denton, can face Paul on the other side, he claims Paul set up to charge at him with the knife. He fires his taser, which fails to attach through the gate. He then draws his handgun and fires five bullets, killing Paul at the scene.

Paul's family files a wrongful death suit against the city, with their legal team alleging lethal force was not necessary. Body-cam footage captured the entire event and would serve as the primary forensic evidence of the incident. In order to proceed with the best understanding of the incident, the legal team enlists 3D Forensic to fully analyze the event.

Challenges:

  • Use the footage from two shaky body-worn cameras to determine the true threat Paul posed to pursuant police officers

Solutions:

  • Extract true measurements of distance and speed through laser-based photogrammetry
  • Reverse-engineer the firing officer's true eye-level perspective
  • Animate the incident from a subjective view

The only footage of the incident was captured through two body-worn cameras; one by Officer Denton who led the chase and fired the fatal shots and one from a separate trailing officer. With these two angles, the team could see the scene from multiple perspectives and camera-match the positions of everyone involved during the most critical moments.

Determining the true threat Paul posed to the officer was crucial to validating the use of lethal force. After reverse-engineering the positions of the firing officer and the decedent, the team was able to animate the incident from an objective perspective.

3D Forensic calculated that when Paul "charged" at the officer, he was only moving at about half a foot per second over a two-foot distance while about six feet away. A partially closed gate stood between them at the time. These factors affirmed the plaintiff's claim that the man had not violently charged at the officer or posed an immediate threat.

A frame-by-frame analysis of the officer's body-worn camera showed that a row of bushes did block the camera's view of the man's hands. However, since body-worn camera's perspective was about 14 inches lower than an officer's eye-perspective, the team worked to calculate the difference in perspective for the firing officer and his body-worn camera.

After repositioning to Officer Denton's eye-level perspective, the team re-animated the incident from his viewpoint. The team verified that his true perspective would easily clear the row of bushes and would allow him to see the man's hands. Evidence from the ensuing investigation showed Paul had left the knife in his room before the chase, ensuring he couldn't have been armed when shots were fired. This evidence was key in verifying that Paul did not "charge" at Officer Denton with a lethal weapon, and that Denton could verify this fact.

Result

3D Forensic's analysis played a major role in the city's decision to settle this case with the family out-of-court. A seven-figure settlement was delivered to the plaintiff.

**NOTE: Each case is affected by unique factors and requires an independent forensic approach. These case studies serve as general applications and are not universally applicable. The true identities of subjects, entities, and locations have been changed to protect anonymity.**


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