Three more cases for body cameras
Herald editorial board
Three recent police videos provide three case studies of how police body cameras add clarity and truth to the stories of those involved.
Case No. 1: In Milwaukee, police interacted with professional basketball player Sterling Brown in a store parking lot. Brown was parked illegally and was confronted as he left the store. Although police reports say Brown acted aggressively, police video doesn't seem to confirm it. Soon, eight officers were on the scene. Brown was asked to take his hands out of his pockets, and he hesitated; that led to him being tackled and subdued with a Taser.
Brown should have reacted quickly when asked to take his hands from his pockets, but the video seems to show that police unnecessarily escalated the situation. The Milwaukee police chief later said the officers acted inappropriately.
Case No. 2: Last month in Texas, a woman claimed State Trooper Daniel Hubbard groped her during a traffic stop. When Sherita Dixon-Cole was stopped for driving while intoxicated, she said the officer offered her a deal: If she performed sexual acts with the trooper, he would release her. Dixon-Cole retained a lawyer and her claims created a nationwide furor.
Yet when Hubbard's body camera video was examined, there was no evidence whatsoever to support Dixon-Cole's claims. It led her lawyer to issue an apology, taking responsibility for "amplifying these claims to the point of national concern."
As far as we know, Dixon-Cole does not yet face legal repercussions, but she should.
Think of the money Dixon-Cole's case would have cost the state of Texas in legal fees and, perhaps, settlements. It also could have ruined an officer's reputation.
Case No. 3: During the Memorial Day weekend, a young woman on a New Jersey beach was confronted by officers who wondered if the 20-year-old was illegally consuming alcohol.
Emily Weinman apparently passed a breathalyzer test, but video shows her becoming confrontational with the officers. Although she evidently possessed alcohol, she argued that it's legal for her to have it. She also refused to tell officers her full name; when an officer attempted to put her in handcuffs, she resisted and walks away, yelling "don't touch me" and pushing the officers.
As she continued to resist, one officer hit her several times. In our view, he shouldn't have. The woman later spit at the officers.
Generally, the video shows a young woman who was uncooperative with police, showed alarming disdain for the law and was arrested accordingly.
All three of these videos surfaced just in recent weeks. Two of the cases seem to show officers were in the right; one seems to show officers overreacted. All three shed truth on what really happened in each case.
We have used this space before to suggest all local and regional law enforcement departments should be using cameras. Today, many use them, but some still do not.
Once again, we say this: All law-enforcement agencies should be using these devices, and the public must understand that although the price tag may seem high, the money they will save in later lawsuits will pay for the cameras many times over.