Tactics expert offers testimony at ex-deputy's trial

SAN BERNARDINO - An expert in police tactics and training testified Monday that a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy made critical mistakes and didn't follow proper procedures before he shot and wounded a man at the end of a car chase in Chino.

The deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., erred in virtually every move he made, from the moment he gave chase to the fleeing car right through his decision to pull the trigger of his pistol, according to testimony from Joe Callanan, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's training officer and police use-of-force specialist.

Callanan said Webb acted that night like "a one-man task force," and characterized the former deputy's decisions as "a disaster."

"This is not what you expect from a trained, professional, experienced peace officer," he testified. "It simply is not reasonable, and there is no explanation for it."

Webb is on trial in San Bernardino Superior Court for attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the on-duty shooting of Elio Carrion.

Webb shot Carrion, an Iraq war veteran and Air Force senior airman, three times on Jan. 29, 2006, after chasing a Corvette in which Carrion was a passenger.

The chase ended when the Corvette crashed on Francis Street in Chino. Carrion crawled out of the car onto the ground as a local man videotaped the incident from his front yard.

The tape appears to show Webb shoot Carrion as Carrion complied with the deputy's orders to "get up."

Prosecutors called Callanan to testify Monday as an expert witness on police training and procedure.

Callanan spent about 20 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, rising to the rank of lieutenant before he retired in 1989. During that time, and since, he helped craft procedures regarding police use of deadly force that have become the standard for law-enforcement agencies across the country, he said.

He now works as a private consultant, billing $120 to $250 per hour for his services.

He previously testified for prosecutors during grand jury proceedings for the LAPD officers indicted in connection with the infamous Rodney King beating, though he said it's rare he works for the prosecution.

Most of his work is done on behalf of officers or police agencies involved in use-of-force incidents, he said.

Callanan said he reviewed the videotape of Webb's shooting, scores of police reports, witness interviews, police radio logs and other evidence in reaching his opinions on the Webb incident.

In his testimony Monday, he spared no criticism of the former deputy's actions. On several occasions, he said any cadet who tried to use Webb's tactics during training exercises at the academy would probably flunk.

"These are things that are taught to them in the earliest academy days," Callanan testified.

According to earlier testimony, Webb never reported over his police radio that he was engaged in a pursuit. His first transmission was to report that he was holding two suspects at gunpoint.

Then he gave backup officers at least two erroneous reports of his whereabouts, leaving them unable to find and help him.

Callanan told jurors that Webb probably shouldn't even have given chase to the Corvette, given the danger of pursuing such a fast car through a residential area. And once the chase began, Webb should have reported it over the radio, along with the reason for the chase and his speed.

He also should have constantly updated his location. If he wasn't sure where he was, he should have told his colleagues and given a general description of the area, Callanan said.

Once the Corvette crashed, Webb parked his squad car at an angle almost parallel to it, with his own door toward the two suspects. He then walked right up to Carrion with his gun drawn. Webb stayed within several feet of Carrion through the time of the shooting.

Callanan said this, too, was a mistake.

Webb should have parked his squad car pointed at the Corvette so he could use his headlights and spotlights to illuminate the area for safety. He then should have armed himself with a shotgun, stood behind his door in a defensive posture and shouted commands to the suspects over his loudspeaker until backup arrived, Callanan testified.

By not doing so, Webb failed to utilize the best and safest tools he had at his disposal, Callanan said.

"He should not approach the Corvette, and he should not approach the man on the ground," Callanan said.

Webb continued to worsen the situation by shouting confusing, insulting and vulgar commands at Carrion, Callanan said. Officers are trained to be calm and assertive, but Webb appeared to lose his cool with his suspect for no clear reasons, the witness said.

An officer's goal should be to calm and subdue suspects. Webb's words to Carrion, in which he called him a "punk" and used a stream of curse words, were more likely to agitate the situation, Callanan testified.

"It's just abusive treatment, and nobody likes it, period," he said.

The tape of the shooting appears to show Carrion disobey Webb's orders to "shut up." It also shows Carrion repeatedly lift his hands off the ground as he tried to tell Webb he means him no harm. At one point, a hand appears to come close to Webb's gun.

Still, Callanan said he didn't see Carrion make any moves that would have justified Webb to shoot him - especially after telling Carrion to "get up."

"There's not a threat relative to the man on the ground that would indicate that such a high level of force - deadly force - be deployed," he said.

Callanan also said that the manner in which Webb fired the gun appeared deliberate, and is not consistent with "panic fire."

Webb's personnel records show that the deputy had been repeatedly trained in proper techniques for use of deadly force. Webb, in fact, had just attended refresher classes in August 2005, about five months prior to the shooting, Callanan said.

Webb's lawyers will get their chance to cross-examine Callanan when testimony in the trial resumes today. Defense attorney Michael Schwartz on Monday declined to comment on Callanan's testimony thus far.

Webb's legal team is likely to call their own experts in the trial, as well.

Webb's attorneys have previously argued the shooting was justified.

They say Carrion repeatedly ignored orders from the deputy and reached a hand into his black Raiders jacket, as though he were grabbing for a weapon.

Webb no longer works for the Sheriff's Department. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted.

Carrion has returned to light duty at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at r_leveque@dailybulletin.com, or by phone at (909) 483-9325.

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