Should Cops Get to Review the Video Before They Report?

Sorry, Mr. Bratton. Science says no.

By KATHY PEZDEK

The scenario is all too familiar. A police officer with a dash-cam or body camera stops an individual, the situation escalates, the individual is apprehended, a charge is made and the individual is arrested. The question is whether prior to being questioned or even prior to writing a report, should the officer be permitted to view the recorded footage?

Philip Eure, the Department of Investigation’s Inspector General for the NYPD, recently recommended that police officers be prevented from viewing recorded footage before giving a statement to investigators. Quick to respond, New York’s City Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton called this “one of the recommendations of the I.G. that we strongly, strongly disagree with and will not support under any circumstance.” His concern was enhancing the integrity of police officers; “I am not intending to use the cameras to play a game of gotcha with the cops.”

This is a complex issue, but one for which cognitive science research provides a clear answer. If the purpose of any investigation is to get the most complete, accurate information possible, then it could be argued that the officer should view the footage, probably multiple times, prior to being questioned and prior to testifying. Human memory is notoriously flawed, but we can consider recorded footage to be “ground truth.” So according to this argument, bolstering the officer’s account by having him view the recorded footage effectively serves to enhance the accuracy of the officer’s report. And it does.

The problem is that in so doing, two independent lines of evidence – the officer’s eyewitness memory and the recorded footage – are no longer two independent lines of evidence. That is, the eyewitness memory of the officer has been tainted by viewing the recorded footage. If in the prosecution of the case the officer is to serve as an eyewitness, and his memory is to be preserved untainted, then it is critical that the officer not view the footage.

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How Congress Can Give Teeth to the Federal Law on Police Accountability

By updating federal criminal civil rights law, Congress can make criminal consequences more likely for police misconduct and brutality.

cops
Eric Baradat/Getty

When I teach civil rights law, I always start the semester with a misleadingly straightforward hypothetical scenario. Imagine a police officer pulls over an unarmed driver for a broken taillight and eventually shoots and kills the driver. Did the officer break any criminal or civil rights laws? This exercise never fails to set off a fiery debate: “Did the driver obey the officer?” “Why couldn’t the cop have used a taser?” “Don’t people have a right to not to be killed over a minor traffic infraction?” And sooner or later, one student typically reminds the class of a fundamental point about America: “But he’s a police officer.”

Think about that. “But he’s a police officer.”

When cops, unlike average civilians, deploy brute force under certain circumstances, we excuse the violence as law and order. But when law enforcement officers abuse their authority, violating our rights, we have federal criminal civil rights law to hold them accountable.

Except we pretty much don’t.

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Activists Hope Chauvin Convictions Are Start to Real Change (+2 more)

By AMY FORLITI, STEVE KARNOWSKI and MOHAMED IBRAHIM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — “One down, three to go!” went the chant just minutes after Derek Chauvin was convicted in George Floyd’s death — a reference to three more fired officers who are awaiting trial.In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, stands after the verdict is read in his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Standing next to him are attorneys Eric Nelson, left and Amy Voss. (Court TV via AP, Pool): George Floyd Officer Trial© Provided by Associated Press George Floyd Officer Trial

While the verdict was celebrated by activists and brought a sense of relief, talk soon turned to ambitions for greater change outside the courtroom.

Activists, Floyd’s family members and some public officials said Chauvin’s convictions on murder and manslaughter charges were just a start, and they will continue to push for systemic change in policing in Minneapolis and beyond.

“We need true justice,” Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the team that prosecuted Chauvin, said after Tuesday’s verdict. “That is a social transformation that says that nobody’s beneath the law, and no one is above it.”

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Far-Right Extremists Wailing And Gnashing Their Teeth Over Chauvin Verdict

Predictably, racists aren’t happy that a white cop didn’t get away with murdering an unarmed Black man this one time.

By David Neiwert

Far-Right Extremists Wailing And Gnashing Their Teeth Over Chauvin Verdict
Image from: YouTube Screenshot

The online angst among white nationalists and other far-right extremists was neck-deep Tuesday following Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd.

“God help you if you’re a white male in this anti-white country,” wrote Andrew Torba, founder of the white nationalist-friendly chat site Gab, to his 3.2 million followers.

Many of the reactions were collected by Chuck Tanner at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, who noted that “the response across the far right and white nationalist movement demonstrated its base lack of compassion and lack of mooring in reality.”

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Alternate Juror in Chauvin Trial on Testimony That “Really Got to Me”

By Jamie Yuccas

Lisa Christensen sat through every minute of the trial of Derek Chauvin as prosecutors and the defense each made their case in the killing of George Floyd.a woman smiling for the camera: cbsn-fusion-alternate-juror-in-chauvin-trial-speaks-out-about-case-witnesses-guilty-verdict-exclusive-thumbnail-698718-640x360.jpg© Credit: CBSNews cbsn-fusion-alternate-juror-in-chauvin-trial-speaks-out-about-case-witnesses-guilty-verdict-exclusive-thumbnail-698718-640×360.jpg

She was an alternate juror, so she did not have a role in the verdict, but in an exclusive interview for “CBS This Morning,” she said she was happy with the jury’s decision to convict Chauvin after weeks of hard testimony. Christensen said she was reluctant to be on the jury when she was first called up.

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Justice for Daunte Wright! Smash Police Terror!

By Devin Cole 

On April 11, police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on the northwest border of Minneapolis, fatally shot a young Black man named Daunte Wright. According to witnesses, Daunte Wright was being stopped by Brooklyn Center police when he was shot by an officer. He then got back in his car and drove away, driving a few blocks before crashing the vehicle several blocks away. 

Carrying Black Lives Matter flags to denounce killing of Daunte Wright (inset photo), protesters are assaulted by police, April 11.

According to the Washington Post, the police told his father, Aubrey Wright, that they stopped his son initially due to an air freshener allegedly blocking his rearview mirror. The father questioned the police motive since his son’s car windows were tinted. The police then claimed that they asked Wright to step out of his car for an “outstanding warrant” before he was killed. (April 12)  

Police officials are now saying that the killing of Daunte Wright was an “accident” since the officer who shot him thought it was a taser.  

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Calling Chauvin a “Bad Apple” Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence

Law enforcement stands guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center, as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues inside, on April 2, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Law enforcement stands guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center, as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues inside, on April 2, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a “bad apple.” In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing.

The first prosecution witness to testify about Minnesota Police Department (MPD) policies was retired Sgt. David Ploeger, the supervising police sergeant on duty the day Chauvin killed Floyd. It was his job to conduct use of force reviews. Ploeger testified, “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officer,” when he was handcuffed on the ground and no longer resisting, “they could have ended the restraint.”

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