BOWLING GREEN —
If officers are in a physical struggle on the ground and the suspect is intentionally hiding his arms beneath him, Payne testified that he thinks striking the suspect with fists or applying pressure point pain would have been reasonable uses of force. The bruises on Stinnett in photographs taken by the FBI would be a reasonable result of proper force, Payne said. In that type of struggle, Payne also said that other bruises on Stinnett’s back, arms and legs could fall under reasonable use of force when an officer is using pain to gain compliance.
In that type of struggle, Brian Butler and Buddy Alexander, attorneys for Guffey and Bennett, respectively, both asked Payne if he thought an officer using the phrase “tunnel vision” to describe why he could not remember what other officers in the struggle were doing would be unusual, and Payne said no. He would actually like to have officers who were focused on getting control of the hands and not paying attention to other details, Payne said.
“It’s not uncommon to not know what’s going on around them,” Payne said.
Accidental baton strikes to the head are quite common in fights, Payne testified. However, an intentional blow to the head with a baton could be considered deadly force, and Payne said that is never acceptable.
It would also be unacceptable and excessive force if any officer ever hit a suspect in any way once the suspect was in handcuffs, Payne testified. Once a suspect is handcuffed, Payne said they are the responsibility of the officer.
“Their safety and their welfare is now the officer’s duty,” Payne said.
The first thing officers should do after properly handcuffing a suspect is to slow down and conduct a thorough search, Payne testified. After the incident, Payne said most officers are trained to document their use of force in some way, whether in a special form or a general report. The suspect’s resistance, officer’s use of force and reasoning behind his use of force, and any injuries to the suspect or officer should all be thoroughly documented, Payne said.