Erik D. Power, M.S., P.E., senior associate at Hayes+Associates, Inc., will publish a case report, “Reconstruction of a shooting incident to determine position of shooter and timing of each shot fired,” in an upcoming issue of Annals of Forensic Research and Analysis. Power’s report is based on a 2013 case in which reconstruction and analysis from H+A’s team helped to demonstrate that deputy’s decision to fire four pistol shots at a vehicle driven by a suspect was justifiable in his own defense.
Detailing analysis conducted in the matter of Seeley v. Linn County by Power, H+A associate Jeremy Bauer, Ph.D., and H+A president Wilson C. Hayes, Ph.D., the case report presents the engineering analysis and findings related to the disputed event: An altercation between a law enforcement officer and the driver of a 1991 Pontiac Grand Am who was attempting to flee a rural Oregon residence by car. The central question was whether the suspect, Jesse Seeley of Albany, had aggressively driven directly at Deputy David Francis as the officer fired four shots with a 9-mm Glock semi-automatic handgun. Power writes that, “based on the physical evidence (location of the driver’s bullet wounds, bullet holes in the car, and cartridge casings at the scene), standard shooting incident reconstruction techniques were used to determine the position of the shooter with respect to the vehicle when each shot was fired. In addition, based on the vehicle’s acceleration, the laws of physics were used to determine the speed of the vehicle and the temporal sequence of the shots fired.”
When Deputy Francis approached the car and Seeley drove toward him, the deputy pulled the pistol and shouted for him to stop. As 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. As Power concluded, “The science-based analysis of the event contributed to the outcome at trial by proving that the car was being aggressively driven directly at the law enforcement individual when the driver was shot.”
After H+A’s analysis was presented in trial testimony by Dr. Hayes, the Linn County jury found Deputy Francis’ actions justified in a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit brought by Seeley’s family, who alleged that Seeley was merely trying to leave the rural Brownsville driveway as Deputy Francis was on scene investigating an unrelated report of a prowler. See complete story on the Seeley v. Linn County case on our news page: "H+A team helps convince jury of deputy's version in $1 million wrongful death suit."