Davon Lymon is arguing he shot Albuquerque Police Officer Daniel Webster in self-defense, but Tuesday a witness told jurors the officer did everything within department guidelines when he pulled Lymon over.
For two weeks Lymon, 38, has insisted he was in fear for his life the night Officer Webster pulled him over, driving a stolen motorcycle.
“The severity of the crime is at minimum: a possible stolen vehicle,” Lt. Ray Del Greco said. “So he has a pretty severe crime that we know is common to either flee or be armed. So he has the ability, by policy, to use a reasonable amount of force to get this individual into custody.”
APD Lt. Del Greco took the stand Tuesday afternoon for the prosecution. He specializes in use-of-force policies and procedures within the department, therefore District Court Judge Neil Candelaria classified Lt. Del Greco as an expert.
“This witness can opine and state opinions that Officer Webster was following or not following what is taught to other officers in the use of force, at that time,” Judge Candelaria said.
However, the judge made it clear Lt. Del Greco couldn’t testify whether Lymon acted in self-defense, calling that line of questioning “inappropriate.”
“I will also not allow the witness to testify: this is what a reasonable officer would do,” Judge Candelaria said. “Because I think that’s the court’s job and I think that would be the jury’s job.”
Lt. Del Greco discussed the seriousness of pulling over a suspected stolen vehicle and how common it is for drivers in that position to flee. He said the chances of a driver fleeing in this situation increases when it’s a motorcycle.
“A 600-pound motorcycle that can go from 0 to 120 miles per hour in under five seconds,” he said.
He said that’s one of the reasons why Officer Webster used his patrol car to try and block Lymon in the Walgreens parking lot.
“So the goal in any situation, as long as minimum reasonable suspicion exists, to seize somebody against their fourth amendment right not to be ceased, is to attempt to gain control as quickly as possible,” Lt. Del Greco said.
Lt. Del Greco testified that by “gaining control,” it allows officers to slow the interaction down. He said it then gives the officer the ability to search the individual for any weapons.
As far as getting out of his patrol car with his gun drawn, Lt. Del Greco said Webster did not violate department policy.
The defense has questioned Webster’s conduct that night, suggesting he escalated the situation by stepping on Lymon’s foot while he was still on the motorcycle and by trying to cuff one of his hands to the handlebar.
Defense Attorney Gary Mitchell reminded jurors that Lymon pulled into the nearest parking lot when he first realized he was being pulled over. He also pointed out that Lymon complied with the officer’s orders by putting his hands up.
“Was there any indication that the motorcycle was trying to flee?” Mitchell asked.
But Lt. Del Greco insisted all the techniques Officer Webster used that night were an attempt to get Lymon into custody.
“Is the fact that an officer improvises, in the field, mean there’s automatically a violation of policy?” Ken Stalter asked.
“No,” Lt. Del Greco said.
The defense quickly pointed out officers are trained that in high-risk traffic stops, they should wait for backup if they can.
Lt. Del Greco agreed.
“Do you have any concerns that Officer Webster’s conduct was outside APD use-of-force policy as it existed that that time?” Stalter asked.
“No,” Lt. Del Greco said.
The defense will continue its cross-examination on Lt. Del Greco on Wednesday morning.
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