When police officers shoot people under questionable circumstances, psychologist William Lewinski is often there to defend their actions, the New York Times reports. Among the most influential voices on the subject, he has testified in or consulted in nearly 200 cases over the last decade and has helped justify countless shootings around the country. His conclusions are consistent: The officer acted appropriately, even when shooting an unarmed person. Even when shooting someone in the back. Even when witness testimony, forensic evidence or video footage contradicts the officer's story.
A former Minnesota State professor, he says his testimony and training are based on science, but his research has been roundly criticized by experts. An editor for The American Journal of Psychology called his work “pseudoscience.” The Justice Department denounced his findings as “lacking in both foundation and reliability.” Civil rights lawyers say he is selling dangerous ideas. “People die because of this stuff,” said one critic. Lewinski is unique in that he conducts his own research, trains officers and internal investigators, and testifies at trial. The Times says Lewinski is part of the answer for questions about why officers are so rarely punished for shootings.