BOWLING GREEN — The defense team in a federal deprivation of rights trial against Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, deputy Aaron Bennett and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force detective Eric Guffey called one more expert witness and two additional witnesses for Guffey, before resting its case Wednesday morning.
Alex Payne, a retired Kentucky State Police trooper and instructor in the use of force, particularly the asp baton, was the first to be called to the stand Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green. In years as a trooper, member of a KSP special tactical team and instructor at the KSP academy, Payne testified that he has extensive experience in the use of an asp baton and training others how to use one properly. A baton is called for in a situation that requires more than open hand force, but less than deadly force, Payne said. He wouldn’t want a law enforcement officer to pull a firearm on a suspect who simply wanted to fight, he added.
Payne first went over the types of baton strikes in which officers are trained to, and then he used a baton and J. Guthrie True, defense attorney for Eaton, to demonstrate for the jury how an officer would approach using a baton against a suspect.
Strike zones for the asp are the center mass of the arm, center mass of the leg and center mass of the body, Payne said. Hitting those areas will cause pain, disarm the natural weapons of a suspect’s limbs and not cause long-term damage. A law enforcement officer would not aim for a suspect’s head, Payne said, because the head moves easily and cannot hurt the officer, and hitting the head risks serious harm to the suspect. However, Payne said, it is understood that officers will frequently miss their target in a fight with a suspect.