“We want to make sure that if an officer shoots someone or someone shoots an officer that the evidence that says what happened is preserved from the moment that it starts,” said Smock. “If a bullet is lost or evidence is destroyed or compromised, then it’s not available to the criminal justice system to determine what happened.”
That’s why his team is one of the first called upon to investigate police shootings for LMPD, Jeffersontown and surrounding departments.
Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders knows firsthand how difficult a police involved shooting investigation can be. It was one of his first big cases when he became chief. In June 2007, retired Jeffersontown officer Richard Koenig shot Darren Pickerill at the Stoneybrook Kroger.
“This case is the case that he helped us a lot on and the case that without him, I don’t think we would have ever determined what really happened that day,” said Sanders.
Because of the sensitive nature of the case, Sanders says he called on the living forensics team for an objective investigation.
“Dr. Smock was able to examine every aspect of the scene and gather evidence that would have otherwise been lost. He even recreated the entire scene, providing the real story of what happened to a grand jury, police and citizens,” said Sanders. “From that they were able to determine that officer Kaenig’s statement was accurate that they both pulled up to the 4-way stop, that Mr. Pickerall pulled his weapon out, whether or not he ever intended to use it we don’t know, but he pulled the weapon on the retired officer and made some threatening gestures and then Officer Kaenig in response fired a total of eight times, striking Mr. Pickerall six.”
“By performing this sort of evaluation, we prevented someone from being falsely arrested for a crime they didn’t commit,” said Smock.
Since then, Smock has assisted with many police involved shootings. He is considered an expert in the field and travels across the country to share his knowledge.
“I have trained thousands of police officers, prosecutors, physicians, nurses from all over the world,” said Smock. “The way we can help the criminal justice system, is to make sure that all opinions are based on the forensic evidence.”
Smock also trains medical students at the University of Louisville.
He will fly to Hawaii in a few weeks to train prosecutors there.