Troy Lyons said he was assaulted while on duty October 29th, 2012, working as a corrections officer. This was the night of superstorm Sandy, which did so much damage on the East Coast.
Police said it did not happen, and he self injured and has lied. He was offered a polygraph and refused. Police said he was down to only a day or two of sick time, and pulled a stunt in order to get time off. By offering him a polygraph, he could prove this to be untrue.
He also could have issued a reliable denial. A hearing was scheduled for him, which would allow him to assert the truth.
This is something very simple.
Last week, instead of contend that he told the truth, he resigned.
We have several principles at play here, which can be covered.
When someone has told the truth, he will say, "I told the truth" when challenged, with the strong connection seen in the pronoun, "I", the past tense verb, "told" and the word "truth" used in one sentence.
"I am telling the truth" is not as strong, as it is in the present tense.
"I don't lie" uses the word "lie" along with the present tense "don't" verb, also weak.
If someone is unable or unwilling to say, "I told the truth", we are not going to say it for him.
For those unfamiliar with the case: he claimed to have been assaulted, but police doubted his story and offered him a polygraph.
Statement Analysis question: Did the assault really happen?
Statement Analysis is in bold type with emphasis added to the italics.
In Statement Analysis, we deal with the "unexpected." We first set up what we expect to hear; we put ourselves in the shoes of the subject. We expect him to tell the truth. If we do not hear the simple and expected, we are 'surprised' and analyze the words.
This is how deception is detected.
What we listen for is the corrections officer tell us that it happened, using the pronoun, "I", a past tense verb, and address the issue specifically. This is called commitment.
(See Dr. Susan Adams, FBI Law Bulletin 43 “Statement Analysis: What Suspects Words Reveal”)
Because his account has been called a story: We look for him to then say, "I told the truth." This is the most powerful affirmation, using the first person singular pronoun, “I”, the past tense verb, “told” and the word “truth.” This is the strongest commitment a subject can make. (Laboratory of Scientific Interrogation; Avinoam Sapir)
These simple words are avoided by the deceitful and are used, easily and often, by the truthful. They often do not wait to be asked.
Subjects telling the truth should be ask:
“Why should we believe you?”
The strongest answer is “because I told the truth.” When a reliable statement is made (First Person Singular, Past Tense) followed by “I told you the truth”, it is considered in excess of 99% likely truthful.
It is also a simple sentence avoided by deceptive people.
This is the expected. He should simply say what happened, without story telling, vague language, or passivity.
Passive language is used to conceal identity or responsibility.
"I heard a gun shot and saw my husband lying in a pool of blood on the floor."
This is a truthful statement but it omits that she, herself, fired the gun, making it technically true, but deceptive.
"There was a struggle and the gun went off..." Guns do not go off, people pull triggers.
He should not tell us what did not happen, what was not thought, and so forth.
The Form of a Statement
See: “Discourse Analysis” Don Rabon
We will also test his statement on its form.
A truthful statement will dedicate the most number of lines (or words) to what happened since the event, itself, is the most important issue.
The percentage for reliability is: 25/50/25. This can be seen in its three sections:
1. 25% of the words or lines used will describe what happened leading up to the assault
2. 50% of the words will be dedicated to the actual assault. It is the most important part of the account and anything close to 50% should be considered reliable.
3. 25% of the words will be about what happened afterwards, such as calling 911, or getting help.
Truthful people dedicate the most words (or lines) to the actual event, since that is the most important part of the account. In this case, the subject reported being attacked. We expect him to dedicate the most words to the attack, and since he has been accused of fabricating it, we expect him to assert that he told the truth, using the pronoun, “I”, the past tense verb, “told” and the word, “truth.” Should he say, “I am honest”, the present tense verb, “am” avoids committing himself to the event, which took place in the past.
Deceptive people overwhelmingly (85%, LSI) dedicate more words (or lines) to the introduction. This appears to be a 'delay' or an 'avoidance' of the issue, which, if deceptive, causes internal stress.
Let us see if the words of Troy Lyons show truth or deception.
Here is his account that he gave to the media, in an attempt to assert that it really did happen:
“It was the night of Hurricane Sandy, and there were high winds. I was outside making a cellphone call to my girlfriend, saying goodnight to her as I do every night, and I saw a shadow on the side of the fence. I walked around, through a bunch of obstructions, but didn’t see anything. Then I looked up and got hit, and went down, and I remember hearing a car squealing off.
Note that this statement is 72 words in length. A truthful person will tell us that they are telling the truth and will report what they saw, said, or thought, whereas a deceptive person may tell us what they did not see, did not hear, did not think. This is called reporting in the negative.
An assault is very personal, and will have sensory detail to it. (Christopher Dillingham/ Reid Institute)
It was the night of Hurricane Sandy, and there were high winds.
"It was the night..." which is passive language and more used in story telling. He is marking time by the hurricane rather than the assault. Since an assault is something that impacts human senses, we expect to hear him mark time by the assault.
“High winds” is unnecessary information. Hurricanes have high winds, and he is using a format that is more suitable to story telling than honest reporting. This may be an attempt to persuade that he is truthful, which highlights the need, itself, to persuade.
I was outside making a cellphone call to my girlfriend, saying goodnight to her as I do every night,
Note the additional language: "making a cellphone call.” The research of Retired US Federal Marshal and Statement Analyst Mark McClish has shown the inclusion of a “phone call” within a statement often ties a suspect to a crime scene (a scene of deception). Here, it is not just a phone call, but a “cell phone” call, with additional wording that also appears as an attempt to persuade.
"saying goodnight" is also needless. He does not use his girlfriend’s name, which is often indicative of a problematic relationship, yet he may not have introduced her because she may not want her name in the press.
"as I do every night" is the same as "normal", which is a signal that this was not the norm, but rather story telling. When someone says “I am normal” it is a strong indication that they have been thought of as “not normal” in the past. This holds true for reporting something as “usual”: it is an indication that this was anything but “the usual” and is a signal that he is story telling, rather than making a truthful report.
and I saw a shadow on the side of the fence.
The structure here strongly suggests he is telling the truth: he saw a shadow on the side of the fence. It may be his own shadow as he gives no description of the shadow. Note that
I walked around, through a bunch of obstructions, but didn’t see anything.
Note that he reports in the negative not seeing anything. This is impossible. He did see things, but does not want to engage the visual sense. This report in the negative strongly indicates deception.
Then I looked up and got hit, and went down,
“Then” is a temporal lacunae; that is, a passage of time that he has skipped over something.
and I remember hearing a car squealing off.
A truthful person can only tell us what they remember, therefore, the need to say “and I remember” is another indication that he is being deceptive.
"but didn't see anything": also makes for good story telling but it is not what honest people report. In an assault, victims tell us what happened and what they saw.
"and got it" is passive language. Passivity is used to conceal identity or responsibility.
“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,”. “I don’t know if someone was trying to throw some contraband over the fence, or what. I spooked somebody, and then they clocked me. I had lacerations to my face and injuries to my shoulder and the muscles in my chest, and my knee keeps popping out.”
He does not connect himself to the assault: Instead, he uses story telling language. He should tell us what he knows, and not what he does not know. He also introduces the word “contraband” which should be considered as sensitive information. The subject should be investigated for any involvement in possible contraband movement in and out of the facility. There is no connection to an assault with the word “contraband”; making it important to the subject.
Regarding that he may have done this to get more sick time, the subject should tell us that it is not true:
“That’s bull,” Lyons said Monday. “I’ve worked there 12 years, and I was just promoted to sergeant in April. When this happened I had 24 hours of vacation time, eight hours of sick leave and two days of comp time.”
If "that" is bull, it indicates there is a "this" that is the actual reason. (See Psychology Today, November, 2012 “This and That” )
This is a good place to say "I told the truth" but he avoids it. He offers to combat the allegation that this is due to time, but does not say “I told the truth”, instead he speaks of the time he does have:
Vacation time, sick leave, and comp time. Note the order.
Note also that vacation time came first, at 24 hours.
Sick leave is 8 hours, but comp time is not reported in hours, but 2 days. This is a total of only 5 days of time accumulated after 12 years. He actually highlights how little time he has.
“I live in Lubec, and, from what people have heard and read, my name is mud,” Lyons said Monday. “People come up to me and call me a liar. It’s been a very emotional strain. My injuries are healed, and nothing restricts me from going back to work, but they don’t want me back.”
This is the perfect place for him to say he is not a liar and "I told the truth" but he does not.
Testing a Statement By its Form
There is another aspect of Statement Analysis that can be applied to his statement:
Testing a statement on its form.
A truthful statement will be:
1. 25% introduction
2. 50% event
3. 25% post event
Most deceptive statements, on their form, will be heavily weighted in the introduction.
He uses 59 words in his introduction
He uses 5 words for the assault
He uses 8 words to describe what happened after the assault.
Total words used 72
Post Event: 11%
On its form: Deception Indicated.
Police are correct. Troy Lyons is deceptive about what happened on the night he reported being assaulted and will not pass a polygraph.
The deception is indicated by both the language and the form of the statement.