8/13/15 Video Evidence

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We’ve long been advocates of police officers using body cameras.  In a year-long experiment by the Rialto, California police department, use-of-force incidents dropped by 59 percent.  Even more dramatic was the nearly 90 percent reduction in complaints made against police officers. 

Video is often the most impartial and reliable witness to what’s occurred.

Consider events that took place in Santa Ana, California.

Last May, about 10 police raided an unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary.  After customers and staff were escorted out, officers began to methodically destroy the dispensary’s security cameras and DVR.  The exact reason for the destruction has not been fully explained.  One theory is the officers didn’t want evidence if they engaged in improper behavior.

The officers’ destruction wasn’t thorough enough.  They overlooked a separate hidden camera, which recorded their actions and conversations. 

At one point they made fun of a wheelchair-bound amputee.  While this is improper, it’s not illegal.

However, the video appears to show – and attorneys for the dispensary owner allege – the officers eating marijuana edibles such as pot-laced candies.

An investigation was launched after the video was made public.  The police chief is defending the officers’ behavior.  And officers and the police union filed a lawsuit arguing the video must be suppressed.  They argue the officers didn’t give permission to be recorded. 

We think the facts speak for themselves.

So far, none of the officers have been disciplined.

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