Witness testimonies continue in day 3 of WPD officer's use-of-force trial

Witness testimonies continue in day 3 of WPD officer's use-of-force trial

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The state has rested its case in the bench trial for a Wilmington police officer accused of using excessive force during the arrest of a teenager in 2014 continued Thursday.

Tyrell Rivers, who was 16 at the time, was arrested April 4, 2014 in the Jervay community on drug-related charges, as well as trespassing and resisting arrest.

A New Hanover County grand jury later indicted Corporal James Johnson for misdemeanor charges of simple assault and will failure to discharge duties after Rivers' arrest.

Click the respective link to catch up on day one and day two of the trial.

Officer James Combs, who's had more than 15 years of experience at the NC Justice Academy, took the stand again Thursday to be cross examined by the defense.

Combs admitted the quality of some of the car cam video, shown to him in 2014, and excerpts in court, were not of the best quality. But his determination and opinion, stood that corporal James Johnson's actions in trying to subdue Tyrell Rivers in the back of a police cruiser, were not consistent with one of three pressure point techniques.

Attorney J. Michael McGuiness, upon cross examination, asked Combs if a police officer had someone by the neck, trying to implement a pressure point technique, could that be mistaken as, "I'm being choked."

Combs testified that it was not out of the realm of possibility. McGuinness also made reference to the medical report, done on Rivers, during his arrest.  He noted, there was no evidence of Rivers complaining of cough, loss of unconsciousness, or trouble breathing.

That there were no signs of respiratory distress, no marks on his skin.

Before breaking for lunch, local psychologist, Mike Palanza, was called to testify. Palanza had done a series of tests with Rivers in years past.

He testified Rivers has a tested IQ of 73, and based on testing results and observations, the teen suffers from conduct disorder, child-parent relationship problems and attention deficit disorder.

Oral arguments by the defense, scheduled for Friday morning.

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