Saturday, September 20, 2014


The Lost Coast Outpost has some statements from witnesses in the shooting by police of Tommy McClain. One says she didn't see McClain in possession of a handgun. Another won't say exactly what was seen but suggests the police were justified in the shooting. Perhaps another one of those cases where people can watch the same thing happen but come to opposite conclusions?

Some of you that have followed this blog might remember this Sacramento Bee story I linked to last year about a case in High Desert Prison in Susanville, CA. At least two correctional officers were fired after allegations they were involved in severely beating a mentally ill inmate. 

Three female visitors testified along the lines of it being along the likes of what happened to Rodney King of L.A. Riots fame. Problem was, nobody else present saw the same thing, including the supposed victim. A judge restored the officers' jobs.

Then there's the case I read about in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat earlier this year. A guy was arrested and spent seven months in jail for sexual acts with a young (10 or 11 years?) girl who was staying at his home. The victim herself testified it was he that did it. His lawyer finally managed to get a DNA test done. The DNA didn't match.

Detectives went back to the case and interviewed the guy's roommate who finally fessed up and admitted to having done it. This after the girl positively identified someone else.

It's rather scary when you think of how unreliable eyewitness testimony can be, and how much we often rely on it.


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously bad. For me, this was covered in a 7th grade experiment a teacher conducted where he had someone unexpectedly rush into the classroom, do something surprising, and leave. Eyewitness testimony of 70 kids was conclusively wrong. Nobody correctly described the event. (70 kids due to it being two classrooms combined, led by two teachers.)

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I recall while in the College of the Redwoods Police Academy being told the story of a similar test. It might have taken place in another academy.

A guy runs into the classroom, runs up to the podium where the instructor is standing, there's a noise and he runs out of the room. I forget the exact details, but most said the guy ran in, had a gun in his hand and shot the teacher, then ran out.

A recreation of the act showed the guy that ran up to the podium only had a banana in his hand.

They also had an exercise on observation while I was in the academy. A film with short clips showing average, everyday things happening- a woman standing at a bus stop, for instance. You were supposed to write down the details of what you saw.

I did horribly. That bus stop scene, I forget what race the lady was and what she was wearing, but I got it exactly backwards. If she was black I wrote down white. Her dress was either white or brown but I wrote the opposite. And that's when I was forewarned and paying attention.

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 2 eyewitnessesand another that seemed everything leading up to the shootingand another one. Recanted her story


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