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Two Takeaways from Samuel DuBose's Killing

July 31, 2015 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

There are two key takeaways from Samuel DuBose’s unnecessary and tragic death at the hands of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing: 1) body cameras can play a crucial role in police misconduct investigations, and 2) even police officers wearing body cameras can behave poorly.

To be sure, DuBose’s killing is not the first time that body camera footage has proven instrumental in bringing charges against police officers.

One of the best known examples is the killing of James Boyd, a homeless paranoid schizophrenic who was shot and killed in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains by Albuquerque Police Department officers. The shooting was filmed by body cameras. A special prosecutor is pursuing second-degree murder charges against two of the officers involved in the incident.

The Bernalillo County, New Mexico district attorney, who initially pursued murder charges before being disqualified from the case, said when speaking about the charges that, “We have evidence in this case to establish probable cause we didn’t have in other cases.”

Similarly, when Hamilton County, Ohio prosecutor Joe Deters announced the murder and voluntary manslaughter charges against Ray Tensing he described the body camera video as “invaluable.”

The more widespread use of body cameras will make it easier for the American public to better understand how police officers do their jobs and under what circumstances they feel that it is necessary to resort to deadly force.”

On Wednesday The Washington Post, which this year is tracking deadly police shootings, reported that of the 558 fatal police shootings in America in 2015 (the figure is now 559) only four have resulted in criminal charges against the officer.

All four of these shootings were caught on camera.

It is of course the case that some of the 558 fatal police shootings were justified. Indeed, body camera footage has vindicated officers who have killed people. Police officers do regrettably have to use their weapons sometimes. But the more widespread use of body cameras will make it easier for the American public to better understand how police officers do their jobs and under what circumstances they feel that it is necessary to resort to deadly force.

It is very likely that body cameras will be more widely used by American police. There is “overwhelming” public support for police body cameras and lawmakers in many states have introduced legislation outlining body camera policies. Michael White, a professor in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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