Human Factors On Trial
Deputy Daniel Willis Murder Trial
David Blake, M.Sc., C.C.I, was contracted by Texas Municipal Police Officer Legal Defense Attorney Robert McCabe as an expert witness on Human Factors in Police Use of Force. Mr. Blake reviewed the evidence and based upon the totality of the circumstances in favor of innocence, agreed to testify as a human factors expert for the criminal defense of former Deputy Daniel Willis of the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office.
Mr. Blake was certified as an expert and presented a full day of human factors science pertinent to the case, including; The physiological response to fear, the concept of "priming" behavior, vision capabilities and limitations, memory and action / reaction time.
The media had the following reaction to Mr. Blake's testimony:
Through the joint efforts of TMPA attorney Mr. McCabe, his co-council Mrs. Kristen Jernigan, expert witnesses Dr. Rahn Bailey, and Mr. Blake - the trier of fact was able to rule in favor of Mr. Willis, finding him "not guilty" of murder.
While this entire event was a tragedy and a life was forever lost, the judge appeared to base his judgement on the reasonableness standard. A standard founded upon the information known to the officer at the moment in time the force was used. However, what an officer reasonably perceives is not always so easily determined without an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the human being, inclusive of: vision & perception, the processing of information, reaction time, memory encoding and recall.
The following statement from the judge will remain with me always (text below):
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ---Daniel J. Willis you were in that arena, and it is the verdict of this court that you are NOT guilty of the charges stated in the indictment"