DAs and the police will likely tell you that police misconduct with regard to the collection of evidence is rarely present, but in the years I have been practicing law, I have certainly seen my share.
I have to admit that this has been reduced substantially thanks to the use of body-worn cams.
Police Body-Worn Cams in Criminal Cases
Before body-worn cams were widely used by law enforcement agencies, here’s how things would often go: after an incident, the police would write up a report stating everything that took place. More often than not, my client would come to me and say, “Barre, that’s not what happened!”
Guess who the DA is more inclined to believe? The police officer.
These days, now that body-worn cams are widely used, we can review the tapes and determine what actually took place.
In one case I worked on, my client was accused of body checking a cop, something she says that she never did. The fact that she’s a body builder made the cop’s claim compelling. Fortunately, the cop was wearing a body-worn cam, and we had a chance to review the footage. It turns out that what he called “body checking” was really her tripping over the curb and bumping into him. Big difference!
I forwarded the footage to the DA and invited him to look at the 25-second clip my team put together that showed the exact moment in question, and the DA agreed with me that the physical contact was unintentional. Without the body-worn camera footage, I am not optimistic that the D.A. would have believed my client over the officer.
The majority of the time that there’s an arrest for a serious offense, there are two to four cops present, and they each have a body-worn camera. This means that for every hourlong incident, my paralegal has to watch four to five hours of body-worn cam footage to make sure we don’t miss any important details.
Body-Worn Cam Footage Removes Ambiguity
Body-worn cam footage can also reveal when rights are being violated. Not too long ago, a client came to me completely convinced that he was going to be convicted of a DWAI. After my client was cuffed, the cop asked him if had ingested any substances. He told the cop, “I’ve been smoking marijuana with my friends.” In the police report, the cop indicated that his questioning was a legitimate inquiry and that my client was not in custody.
However, when we showed the judge the body-worn cam footage, she found that it was an improper interrogation — my client was clearly in custody, was not read his rights, and was interrogated. The judge didn’t dismiss the case, but she excluded my client’s comments from the trial. When we went to trial, the jury was not told that my client admitted to smoking marijuana, and we won the case.
Hire a Criminal Attorney for Your Case
Body-worn cam footage can really help in situations where you suspect that the police officer misrepresented the situation in his or her report, but you still need an experienced attorney to guide you through the criminal court system.
If you are facing criminal charges, call us today at 303-449-1873 to schedule a complimentary consultation and find out if Barre Sakol is the right representative for your case.