Monday, October 03, 2011

Should Cops Preview Their Own Videos?

An Oakland police officer video taped his shooting and killing of a suspect. Should he be allowed to refresh his memory by viewing his own video before he writes his report? I'm not sure where I stand. I sent the story to Radley Balko over at The Agitator and will be interested in seeing what he has to say.
Link

7 Comments:

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is "no." It's important to compare the officer's perception against the video, just as it is to compare the perception of other eyewitnesses.

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the article in the Chron this morning. It noted that the Officers normally can review the video after doing a written report.

The article indicated that the Officers involved were not being allowed to review the video at all. At the end of the article it gets spun as if they were trying to view the video prior to a report or interview(s).

It is a curious thing. If it goes to court it will come out in discovery anyway. D21

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Fred said...

It seems to me the most important issue, often overlooked, is that the court (and everyone else involved)get an accurate accounting of what took place.I'm not sure that NOT allowing either side to see a video of what took place before they write down their recollections ensures that.

It could be argued that allowing both sides to preview a video before they write their written recollections could actually improve the accuracy of their recollection and thus we'd get more accurate testimony in court.

That's just the way I'm looking at it right now and that would assume both sides- police and suspects/witnesses- are treated equally in regards access to video evidence.

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(off topic)

Fred,

Check out:

http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2011/10/re-mens-rea-legal-defense.html

I came across this article the other day and thought you might like it.

- tra

 
At 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, for once, you have the right idea. Legal proceedings should be a search for truth, not a closed book 'test' of someone's memory. If there was comprehensive video of all police encounters, it would minimize the ability of 'clever' lawyers to inflate small memory inconsistencies into serious doubts.

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred said: "It could be argued that allowing both sides to preview a video before they write their written recollections could actually improve the accuracy of their recollection and thus we'd get more accurate testimony in court."

BZZT! Allowing a preview before giving testimony allows a person with an agenda to shape his testimony to launch a defense or attack that circumvents the video evidence. e.g., to carefully craft your claim to have both truthful elements (also depicted in the video) and false elements (not depicted in the video). Then the jury believes the false elements to be true because the other portions of your testimony were spot on.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger Fred said...

That's always a possibility and I'd argue that happens anyway, but your point is well made. The jury is going to believe whoever seems most truthful, but I'd rather have them argue over facts that can be seen on the video rather than inaccuracies in a witnesses' memory as written down.

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. I'd hate to see someone's mistake in remembering a person's shirt being green instead of blue be haggled over in court and used as a way to impeach a witness. Let's haggle over how we interpret the events seen on the video.

 

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