Impeachment on Personnel Records

Jamison KoehlerEvidence, Trial Advocacy

Q:        If you lost your body worn camera, you could get written up for that, right?

A:         Yeah, if you lost it, yes.  But in this situation, it was knocked off or fell off, whatever have you –

Q:        Right.

A:         I mean, it’s not exactly my fault in this situation but I still need to report the camera is no longer on my chest.

Q:        Right.  So you needed to explain to your official, to Sergeant Jones, because you were concerned about some type of disciplinary hearing against you, right?

A:         Yes.

Q:        Now, if you get too many disciplinary actions against you, that creates problems for your career, right?

A:         Yes, it would.

Q:        And you have already had a number of sustained findings for misconduct against you, isn’t that right?

A:         No, that’s not correct.

Q:        You have not had any sustained findings against you?

A:         Um, I haven’t –

PROSECUTOR:  Objection, Your Honor.  These are not relevant to the case, to the investigation or to this officer’s testimony’s today.

THE COURT:  Please approach.  Officer, you may step down.  You can sit in the jury box.  Counsel, where are you going with this?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, Your Honor.  This goes to bias.  I asked him about prior sustained findings against him, findings that could affect his career, and he has denied having had any.  I have documents to contradict him.  He got up there on the stand and told Your Honor that he has never had a sustained finding against him.  I should have the opportunity to impeach him on that.

THE COURT:  I don’t think that’s quite what he said.  I think you asked him if he’s had a number of sustained findings against him, and he said no.


THE COURT:  Overruled.  I’ll allow it.  Officer, thank you.  You can take the stand again.

Q:        You can answer the question.

A:         I am sorry.  What was the question?

Q:        Have you ever had any sustained findings against you, sir?

A:         Yes.  I’ve made a couple of mistakes in my police career.  Yes, that is correct.

Q:        And when you say couple, you mean two or three?

A:         Two.  I missed two hearings.  Two.

Q:        And these are the only findings, the only sustained findings against you?

A:         Sustained findings as far as what, my entire police career?  This is a very broad question that I haven’t –

Q:        Okay.  Let me be more specific then.

A:         Okay, please.

Q:        How about in 2015, a sustained finding for failing to get assistance from another officer when removing a prisoner from a vehicle?

A:         When was that?

Q:        July 12, 2015.

A:         Okay. Um, yes.  There was an occasion where, um, I had a defendant in handcuffs, was attempting to put him in a second transport vehicle –

Q:        I am not asking you to explain.

A:         Can I answer the question, please?

Q:        That wasn’t my question.  I asked you –

A:         I mean, we’ve opened, we’ve asked – the question’s been asked, may I answer please?

THE COURT:    Just, just, just yes or no.

A:         Okay, please ask your question one more time.

Q:        So you’ve had a sustained finding against you on July 12, 2015 for failing to get assistance from another member when placing or removing a prisoner from a vehicle?   I am reading this from your PPMS.

A:         That’s correct, yes.

Q:        So that is the extent of the sustained findings against you?

A:         Um, in – there was vehicle damage on one date that I failed to report during a vehicle inspection.  Um –

Q:        And that was in June, 2016?

A:         I guess.  That sounds about right.

Q:        Should I refresh your recollection?  Do you want to see this document?

A:        No, that’s right.

Q:        So a sustained finding in July 2015 for failing to get assistance from another officer when placing or removing a prisoner from a vehicle.  And then a sustained finding for failing to report damage to a vehicle.  That is two.  Is that the extent of it?

A:         Yeah, that’s correct.  Um, any other ones, I can’t remember off the top of my head.

Q:        So there are other ones?  So these aren’t important to you enough to remember them?

A:         Uh, I don’t remember any more.  I’ve never received suspension days or any sort of severe punishment for any of these in – for any of these so I don’t remember them.

Q:        Do you recall a sustained finding in May 2015 for failing to ensure that a crime scene officer reported to the scene to recover stolen property.  Do you recall that one?

A:         Yes, I do.  I am sorry, Your Honor.  I had forgotten that one.

Q:        How about a sustained finding in April 2014 for . . .