An argument for police accountability
Body-worn and dashboard cameras keep the police accountable for their actions as government officials are sworn to keep the public safe.
Recently, some police forces have been questioned due to their officers’ actions. From Ferguson to Baltimore City, police officers have been accused of using excessive force, and with these accusations comes the debate of the use of body-worn cameras.
A new video has surfaced depicting a man, Walter Scott, being shot eight times while he was running away after being stopped for a broken taillight, according to an article by CNN.
Slager claimed that Scott grabbed his taser, so he shot him. Little did he know that his story would eventually put him in jail for homicide.
The video brings into question his story. Slager “felt threatened after Scott allegedly took his stun gun during a scuffle.” He fails to mention that Scott is unarmed and running, with his back to him.
Slager, after he cuffs a lifeless Scott, then goes back to the point Mr. Scott ran from, picked up an object before ‘accidentally’ dropping the object next to Mr. Scott on the ground.
The incident in question occurred on the morning of Saturday, April 4, and the video of the incident was posted the following day. After the video was posted, Slager lost the representation of his attorney, was fired from his job and was denied bail on April 7, according to CNN.
Body-worn cameras as well as dashboard cameras in police cruisers need to be provided as a non-biased piece of evidence in police conduct cases. Consequently, jurors and police chiefs will not have to solely rely on the subjective police officer’s account of the incident, as in the case of Michael Slager.
In the case of Eric Garner, it was true that his death was caught on camera and many felt outraged that the outcome seemed similar to other cases in which nothing was caught on film. Body cameras might catch something on film that still doesn’t have the proper outcome, but it seems like a necessary step in holding law enforcement responsible for what they do.
Cameras not only keep police accountable, but they also work as a preventative action. In Rialto, California, where police cameras have been implemented for a year, officers have reported an 88% decline in the number of complaints, as well as a 60% decline in the use of force.
In the case of Michael Slager, a body-worn camera could have shown exactly what happened with the Walter Scott encounter. Viewers could have seen if Scott did indeed grab for the taser or not. The current video is about 50 feet away and it only captured about half of the incident.
Police accountability is of the utmost importance and must be upheld by body-worn cameras. Without a video taken of the incident between Michael Slager and Walter Scott, the public would have trusted. Slager’s account of the incident, which simply could be false.