Sunday, December 7, 2014

There's Video?!!

A Grand Jury watched a video of a NYPD Officer choke a man to death and said nothing improper about that. Since that time we have heard the Police Unions defend the Police Officer, the same unions being texted by a NYC Housing Officer as a man lay dying in a stairwell after the gun went off and ricocheted to kill another young man.  It was an accident! Like the choke hold that was ultimately the fault of the victim as he was fat, a black man whom they had encountered before, had asthma, was standing there, and had the audacity to sell "untaxed" cigarettes - that was the implication by Rand Paul that infers that if there were no government taxes on said cigarettes this would not be a crime.  Okay, then!

And then we have the video of a 12 year old boy being murdered in Cleveland.  Which when you read the DOJ report on that City well all I can say Cleveland, welcome to the club of police reform!  And they had been there before and well that clearly worked out or didn't.   Frankly that is more telling than the hideous and disturbing revelations in that report that Cleveland had been cited and duly warned and did nothing.  Again if you think DOJ scolds will be enough then move to Seattle, New Orleans and let me know.  Nothing ventured means absolutely nothing gained at all.

So as the move to arm officers with cameras rather than military weapon grade arms means well that technically there will be video to either "confirm or deny" the Officer's account of the proceedings.  This will of course fall under the Nixon, 12 minutes of tape disappearance category as vehicle cams do now. There is a debate if these will be the panacea or cause more problems well Britain has more cameras than cars, from the streets to the Police so ask yourself which do you prefer?

And even when video exists there can be loopholes as they say in the law as in this case with a Judge pleading to not charge her with a DUI.  Well its Texas. Excuse or explanation?  You decide.

Funny that video conveniently "disappeared" only to reappear after charges were not filed due to lack of evidence. Does this fall under the hideous ## category "criming while white" or better "criming while a municipal employee"

If this Judge, theoretically, ever has a case presented to her by this cop or Prosecutor, I am sure she would be utterly unbiased, fair and just.  And if you believe that you and Virginia believe in Santa.

Every week I read more and more Police, Judges, Firefighters and varying other municipal employees being exempted from the punishments that are deemed by law. The same punishments that for the great unwashed are never exempted.  

So if you think body cams, videos and other documented evidence will change this - ask Cleveland how that last DOJ reprimand worked for them?  Clearly change is not going to come from the top down but rather the bottom up.

Who is at the bottom? Well us.  How?  Simply put we need to organize, centralize and consolidate the varying groups and fractions that exist with the same purpose and intent.  Then elect and ensure leadership is established.  Educate and inform members.  Communicate.

The next is simply start with something easy.  Compel our elected officials to restore voting rights.  Use the votes that are earned to secure an elected officials positions. Votes are the equivalent of money to these people.  If they can get guaranteed votes and job security than the check proffered by private industry is superfluous.  Votes vs cash. They are all the same for numbers.

Next up - removing credit checks and of course ban the box.  Having troubled credit should not be a precursor to having a job, no one should need to have to tell anyone about any criminal past if they have served the time,  paid the fine, then the public shaming needs to end there.   And from there work on these organizations like credit agencies and others that randomly collect data, do so without impunity and in turn can provide outdated or misinformation about individuals that can lead to further problems.

Votes versus cash and then get ways to ensure that the electorate can get cash to in turn of course help those elected officials later.  Hey just like them you can promise to pass on the wealth but well shit happens.

Start small, work up.  Get them to do what needs to be done and while that is being done get these professional assholes that have spent way to much time in the halls of the Ivy league, Wall Street and in turn Government.

Time has come to remind oneself that this is our Government and our right to change that which is not by the people for the people.

Body Cameras Worn by Police Officers Are No ‘Safeguard of Truth,’ Experts Say

DEC. 6, 2014

Michael Brown’s family, on the night of the Ferguson grand jury decision, called for all police in the United States to wear body cameras.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in announcing that some of New York’s police officers would begin wearing them, said “body cameras are one of the ways to create a real sense of transparency and accountability.”

And on Monday, President Obama said he would request $75 million in federal funds to distribute 50,000 body cameras to police departments nationwide, saying they would improve police relations with the public.

But even as departments have started adopting the technology, questions remain about how much it can actually prevent violent encounters with citizens or clarify the boundaries of appropriate police response.

No consensus has emerged about when officers should turn on their cameras, which could leave departments open to accusations of selective recording. And tapes do not always lead to universally shared conclusions. The footage of Eric Garner’s death this year on Staten Island and of Rodney G. King’s beating by Los Angeles officers in 1991 ultimately revealed the shortcomings of video as evidence, even as they thrust violence against unarmed black men into the public eye.

So while video offers the illusion of absolute truth, police officials and legal experts say, it can just as often turn into a Rorschach test.

“We shouldn’t just think of video as the safeguard of truth — ‘Now we have incontrovertible evidence of the truth of what happened,’ ” said Mary D. Fan, a criminal law professor at the University of Washington School of Law and a former federal prosecutor. “It isn’t necessarily the magic bullet, that now we know the truth and that we’ll all agree, we’ll see the same thing and agree on the same thing.”

Body cameras have already played a role in a few police disciplinary cases. In Phoenix, for example, an officer was fired after his camera captured him in repeated instances of profanity, verbal abuse and threats against civilians.

In other cases it was the absence of video that got the officer in trouble. An officer in Daytona Beach, Fla., was forced to resign after he was caught turning off his camera at critical moments. An Albuquerque officer who shot and killed a woman in April — and whose camera was off at the time — was fired on Monday after being investigated for not complying with department orders that required officers to record all interactions with civilians.

But even when video does exist, it is often not decisive. In the case of Mr. Garner, the Staten Island man who died in July after a police officer put him in a chokehold, a video of the encounter taken with a bystander’s cellphone and viewed millions of times was enough to stir visceral outrage — but not to secure an indictment.

“I don’t know what video they were looking at,” said Gwen Carr, Mr. Garner’s mother, referring to the grand jury that cleared the officer, on Wednesday. “Evidently it wasn’t the same one that the rest of the world was looking at.”

Many of those who poured out to demonstrate after the Garner decision thought, as Greg Jackson, 25, a law student from Oakland, Calif., did, that the video would make an indictment “a slam dunk.”

But slam dunks are rare.

In the beating of Mr. King, the Los Angeles officers involved were acquitted despite a video, shot by a nearby resident, showing them repeatedly kicking and hitting him with batons. In the case that inspired the film “Fruitvale Station,” the transit officer who fatally shot Oscar Grant III in Oakland, Calif., in 2009 was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a lesser verdict than many protesters had called for after cellphone video of Mr. Grant’s death circulated online.

For one thing, jurors are often sympathetic to police arguments. The officers charged with beating Mr. King after a car chase argued that he was uncooperative and making movements they deemed potentially threatening. (Two of the four acquitted officers were later convicted in federal court of violating Mr. King’s civil rights.)
Mayor Bill de Blasio, holding a body camera, said the devices were one way for the police “to create a real sense of transparency.” Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

And police have some latitude to use force when making an arrest. Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who applied the chokehold to Eric Garner, narrated three videos taken of the encounter while testifying before the grand jury, saying he intended only to wrestle Mr. Garner to the ground.

Confronted with a video, the police usually “have a version that seeks to explain what you see, not necessarily to contradict what you see, but to explain it,” said John Burris, an Oakland-based civil rights lawyer who worked on the King and Grant cases.

The potential for officers to tailor their testimony to video evidence highlights an ongoing debate over the extent to which police should have control of or access to the videos taken by their body cameras.

The majority of police chiefs surveyed last year by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit police research and policy organization, said they supported allowing officers to review videos before making statements. In New York, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said officers will have the same opportunity.

Rules about when officers should activate their cameras vary. Some departments have no written policy, according to the Police Executive Research Forum’s report. A common approach requires recording when responding to 911 calls and any situation that might involve criminal enforcement. Officers have the discretion to turn their cameras off under most policies, the report said, but must explain their decision in writing or on camera.

The concern is that “they’ll be selective, that there will be Watergate gaps in the record,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “There have to be mechanisms to ensure against that.”

The New York Police Department has yet to finalize its policy, though officials said the current draft calls for officers to record in seven instances, which include arrests and any use of force. Interior patrols in housing projects were added to the list after an officer shot and killed an unarmed black man in a housing project stairwell in Brooklyn last month.

When it comes to enforcing the policies, “the implications for legitimacy are going to be pretty profound,” said Michael White, the author of a Department of Justice study on police body cameras. “If you have a police encounter that results in a citizen’s death, and it was supposed to be recorded and it wasn’t, you can imagine what the citizens’ reaction would be.”

Cities are moving forward with camera programs even in the absence of much evidence of their benefits: Only three studies have been conducted on them in the United States, Mr. White said, though they have been promising.

In Rialto, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Phoenix, the use of force and civilian complaints against officers when they wore cameras decreased. But Mr. White cautioned: “We have no idea what the dynamics are that are leading to those reductions.”

In the Garner case, Officer Pantaleo’s lawyer, Stuart London, said his client believed he was in the right, so it did not bother him that he was being filmed.

“I expect everything to be filmed,” he said the officer told the grand jury.

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