By reconstructing a shooting incidentinvolving a deputy and the man he fatally shot as the latter attempted to flee a rural Oregon residence by car, a team from Hayes + Associates, Inc., established that the deputy’s action, the firing of four pistol shots at the vehicle, was justified, given that the deputy feared for his life.
After testimony by Wilson C. Hayes, Ph.D., H + A president, the Linn County jury found Deputy David Francis justified in a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of the decedent, Albany resident Jesse Drew Seeley. Seeley’s family alleged that Seeley was merely trying to leave the rural Brownsville driveway he drove into as Deputy Francis was on scene investigating an unrelated report of a prowler in November 2010.
When Deputy Francis approached the car, Seeley drove directly toward him. As the deputy pulled the pistol and shouted for the driver to stop, Seeley accelerated sharply, scattering gravel. Deputy Francis fired first through the car’s windshield, barely stepping aside as the car passed him. Seeley was struck twice in the torso and died minutes later.
Attorney Jens Schmidt, who represented the county, argued that Seeley tried to use his car as a weapon, and that Deputy Francis had responded with deadly force in self-defense. It was later determined that Seeley, who had a criminal history of drug use and theft, had methamphetamine in his system on the night of the shooting.
An analysis performed by Dr. Hayes and his associates Erik D. Power, P.E., and Jeremy J. Bauer, Ph.D., revealed that Deputy Francis was less than nine feet in front of Seeley’s car when Seeley accelerated and the deputy fired the first shot. The H + A team’s reconstruction demonstrated that all four shots were fired in less than 2.5 seconds.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding for the defense