Why cops fear cameras
The headline in today’s New York Times’ article sums up perfectly why so many cops feel threatened by photographers: When Evidence From Surveillance Cameras Leads to Charges Against Officers.
The article highlights several cases where police officers ended up facing criminal charges for lies exposed on video cameras, either though surveillance cameras or citizen videos. A couple of the incidents have been reported on this blog.
- New York City detective Debra Eager was indicted on three felony perjury charges after her testimony before a grand jury about a 2007 drug arrest “starkly contradicted” video surveillance of the event.
- New York City police officer Patrick Pogan, who was caught on video assaulting a bicyclist, was indicted in December on charges of assault and filing false paperwork, and has since resigned.
- New York City narcotics officers Henry Tavarez and Stephen Anderson, were charged with official misconduct and conspiracy in January after prosecutors said they lied about a “buy and bust” operation at a bar in Queens. One of the men they had arrested, on charges of selling the officers drugs, produced video evidence showing that the officers had had no contact with him or three other suspects, prosecutors said. The charges against the men were dropped.
- New York City police officer Maurice Harrington was caught on citizen video hitting Michael Cephus 10 times with a metal baton before charging him with assault. Charges were later dropped. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is now investigating Harrington.
- New York City police officer David London was indicted on charges of assault and filing false records after surveillance video showed he pulled a man he had accused of resisting arrest out of an elevator and beat him 18 to 20 times with a baton.
These incidents, which are hardly contained to New York City as any reader of this blog knows, demonstrate why we all need to arm ourselves with compact video cameras when leaving our homes.
It also goes to show you why a South Florida model felt compelled to bring a video camera when she went to pick up her son who had been detained by police earlier this month.
And it makes you wonder how would things have turned out had citizens not videotaped a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer shooting an unarmed suspect in the back.
According to Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson: “untruthful testimony” from law enforcement officers “strikes at the very heart of our system of justice and seriously erodes public confidence in our courts.”
I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.