Video Footage: How Effective is it as Evidence?

Three weeks ago, on a Saturday, in Columbus, Ohio, a suspect, who was a black man, was lying on the ground being handcuffed by an officer. He was held down by the officer. Although he was already handcuffed and held down, another officer did not believe that was enough. As a result, he decided to run up to the suspect and stomp on the suspect’s head. Just two weeks before this incident occurred, the officer who stomped on the suspect’s head was able to avoid charges for fatally shooting a black man in 2016. The officer is a part of the Columbus police agency. In response to the officer’s behavior, the Columbus police agency stated that the behavior “does not meet the standards of the Columbus Division of Police.” Furthermore the mayor of Columbus stated that the officer’s behavior was unacceptable in a Twitter post. The chief officer at the Columbus police agency has stated that the officer who stomped on the suspect’s head has been reassigned to non-patrol duty while the situation is being investigated. The chief officer continued to say that there was not enough information about the incident, even though a passerby filmed the incident showing that the officer obviously stomped on the suspect. The chief officer says that that there is “potential that the camera does not see everything that occurred the way that it occurred.” Although a camera cannot capture every detail, video recordings provide hard evidence, and in this case, explicit evidence of the officer’s behavior. To lessen the importance of the explicit evidence allows for dangerous outcomes such as guilty officers being acquitted and retaining their positions and jobs. The earlier case that this officer was involved with in 2016 was when he was one of  two officers involved in killing 23 year old Henry Green, shooting him seven times. The grand jury decided to not indict either of the officers involved in killing Henry Green.

With the video footage being used more frequently to show police brutality and more officers being able to get away freely from punishment with the presence of video evidence, the question of what kind of evidence will bring justice must be raised? Officers being acquitted with the presence of video footage has been seen time and time again. For example, we saw this in one of the most highly publicized cases of police brutality in recent years with the Eric Garner case. With this new incident of police brutality, I can say that I do expect for the officer to not be punished. There has been strong advocacy for police officers to wear body cameras, but I do not know if such a policy changes how courts handle cases of police brutality. I do not know if body cameras and video footage can overcome the corruption of the court system because it has not in the past.


One thought on “Video Footage: How Effective is it as Evidence?

  • May 6, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I wonder whether video footage will become the new standard for hold police accountable, so that its absence means a free pass?


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