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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hung Jury in Cop Beating Case Profiled in SF Weekly

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 9:30 AM

A jury could not agree -- again -- whether Ernesto Galvan committed battery or resisted arrest while being struck 32 times by baton-weilding police
  • A jury could not agree -- again -- whether Ernesto Galvan committed battery or resisted arrest while being struck 32 times by baton-weilding police
The current SF Weekly cover story profiles Don Cameron, a police defense techniques expert who has testified as an expert witness in numerous police brutality trials -- including a West Sacramento case where cops allegedly bludgeoned into a coma an unarmed Mexican immigrant. Adding insult to grievous injury, beating victim Ernesto Galvan was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and battery on a police officer.

During the reporting for the story, Galvan was being tried a second time on these charges; an earlier case was dismissed after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict. Cameron again testified on behalf of cops earlier this month, saying officers had not used excessive force when they clubbed the unarmed Galvan multiple times in the head.

Notwithstanding, Cameron's expertise failed to convince three jurors. The second trial again ended in a hung jury.

"I think the lesson is that the important thing was who's on the jury," said Anthony Palik, Galvan's attorney -- seemingly challenging our thesis that Cameron is a big deal.

While the second Galvan trial was still pending, the San Francisco-based Palik was under a gag order prohibiting him from speaking about the case.

Now Palik's waiting to see if the West Sacramento District Attorney will push for a third criminal trial. If not, a judge may lift a pending stay on a $32 million lawsuit alleging officers used excessive force when hitting Galvan 32 times with their batons.

"His brain became unattached from whatever held it to the skull, and it was pushed to one side of his head. So his function's not that great," Palik notes.

Look for Cameron to again take the stand.

In "Legal Weapon," Cameron reveals he's a critic of the very system that provides him with a good living as a paid expert witness. He imagined for us a system whereby a court-appointed panel of neutral experts would analyze allegations of police abuse.

"It would be: Here are the fact patterns. Here are the case law standards. Was the officer right? Was the officer wrong? They'd call the attorneys in and say, 'Our independent, nonbiased board says you lose, and you win,'" Cameron said.

We ran this idea by Palik.

"That might not be a bad idea," he said.

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