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St. Louis Cops Turn Dash Cam Off in Middle of Arrest, Brutally Beat Suspect

February 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

An officer yells, “Hold up. We're red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait.”

A dash cam video capturing the arrest and subsequent tasing of a St. Louis man reveals how easily law enforcement can manipulate camera footage to defend its actions.

According to the police report cited by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cortez Bufford engaged in “aggressive” behavior and resisted arrest when cops pulled him over on the night of April 10, 2014. Video of the traffic stop reveals a more nuanced version of what really happened.

Officers Nathaniel Burkemper and Michael Binz pulled Bufford’s silver Ford Taurus over because of an illegal U-turn and in connection with a 911 call over shots fired near the Lafayette Square area of St. Louis. It’s hard to hear exactly what the officers say to Bufford in the dash cam video, but Burkemper can be heard saying, “I’m telling you right now” and “Let’s go.”

According to the police report, Bufford refused to get out of the car as requested. A passenger in the car was handcuffed without incident.

Burkemper eventually pulls Bufford out of the car, and at least seven other officers get involved in the scene. One officer in the video is shown kicking Bufford when he is on the ground. Bufford was also tased twice while on the ground. It appears there is no clear justification for using such force. Officer Kelli Swinton approaches Burkemper’s patrol car at 10:16pm and yells, “Hold up. Hold up, y’all. Hold up. Hold up, everybody, hold up. We’re red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait.” The video ends eight second later.

The charges of resisting arrest and unlawful use of a weapon were dropped in August because the tape contradicted the police report, a lawyer for Bufford said. But a circuit attorney’s spokeswoman, Susan Ryan, disagreed, saying the case was dismissed because “the action of turning off the dash cam video diminished the evidentiary merits of the case,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

The video’s release, which St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s …read more


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