The more we learn the more it is obvious that requiring police officers to wear body cameras is critical to both suppressing police misconduct (it is amazing how people will conduct themselves when they know they are being watched) and to combating malicious allegations of misconduct. Just before Memorial Day, race-baiter extraordinaire Shaun King, aka Talcum X because to all appearances he’s a white guy who is a victim of WrongSkin, tried to push a story that a Texas State Trooper had sexually assaulted a woman he’d arrested for DWI. Fortunately, he officer was wearing a body camera which recorded the entire encounter.
I think, in retrospect, that if Officer Darren Wilson had been wearing a body cam, it would have recorded deceased thug Michael Brown attempting to grab his service weapons and the whole #BLM criminal enterprise and the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” bullsh** would never have happened. We can also say that the Freddie Gray case would not have caused Baltimore Police to be reticent to police minority neighborhoods. In fact, there is little doubt that a detective wearing a body cam saved Baltimore from another round of racial incitement.
Over the weekend, Minneapolis had a close call. Two police officers, Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly, both white, shot to death a 31-year-old black man named Thurman Blevins. The officers were responding to an anonymous call, apparently the caller said they didn’t want to be labeled as a snitch, of a black man with a bottle of gin who was discharging a pistol in a residential neighborhood. The Minneapolis police have released the videos. WARNING: BOTH VIDEOS ARE GRAPHIC AND CONTAIN NSFW LANGUAGE.
Officer Justin Schmidt was the lead pursuer. This video shows what happened from the time Schmidt sees Blevins.
Officer Ryan Kelly was second in pursuit and his camera catches all the action. It is cued up to start as Kelly bails out of his cruiser.
According to Minneapolis prosecutors, about the time Blevins was shot he discharged his firearm.
Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor, said a spent cartridge casing from Mr. Blevins’s gun was found in the alley. Mr. Freeman said it appeared Mr. Blevins had fired a shot at the officers, but that he could not say for sure.
“When Mr. Blevins fled from the officers with a loaded handgun, refused to follow their commands for him to stop and show his hands and then took the gun out of his pocket and turned toward the officers, Mr. Blevins represented a danger to the lives of Officer Schmidt and Officer Kelly,” Mr. Freeman said in a statement.
But even with the video and the cartridge, this is how the New York Times frames the story:
Minneapolis police officers will not face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of an armed man who yelled “Please don’t shoot me” last month as he ran through an alley, prosecutors said Monday.
Body camera footage of the shooting, made public by the mayor of Minneapolis on Sunday night, showed a chaotic foot chase through a neighborhood that ended with the man, Thurman Blevins, fatally wounded. Before the gunshots, one officer repeatedly shouted expletives and told Mr. Blevins to drop his gun. Mr. Blevins yelled “leave me alone” as he ran away.
I’ve discussed before why many LEOs are opposed to body cams. The camera doesn’t record context. It doesn’t care what the officer thought the suspect hand in his waistband or how threatened the officer was feeling, it just records what happened. And what the officer perceived can be in contradiction to the video. Regardless of the merits of that point of view, it is time we made body cams mandatory.
Without the video, the two officers would have been accused of a summary execution and the firearm they recovered from Blevins would have been said to be a throw away gun planted by the officers.
As it is, neither officer is facing either disciplinary action or prosecution. It is too bad that Blevins was killed but there is exactly one person to blame for that…and that would be the guy swilling gin and shooting a pistol.
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