Sunday, March 29, 2015

Last Call For Cop Cameras Can Work Both Ways

A gentle reminder that while cop cameras are definitely a tool to record obvious police brutality in action...

Fighting back tears, a Detroit man and longtime auto worker with no criminal history, described how Inkster police officers dragged him from his car one night in January, choked him, beat him and Tasered him during a traffic stop that was caught on patrol car video.

"He was beating me upside the head," Floyd Dent, 57, told a horde of reporters and TV crews during a press conference at his attorney's office Wednesday afternoon, as tears trickled his cheeks. "I was trying to protect my face with my right arm. I heard one of them say, 'tase the M...F. '"

The Jan. 28 incident was caught on police video cameras and is making national news. It shows Inkster police pulling over Dent in his 2011 tan Cadillac near South River Park Drive and Inkster Drive shortly before 10 p.m. The two officers approach with their guns drawn. As Dent opens the door, they pull him out and shove him to the ground. Dent does not appear in the video to be resisting arrest. can also record incidents where police are not engaged in harming civil rights and are in fact doing their jobs correctly.

Taraji P. Henson was roundly applauded on social media this week over actions she took after having claimed that police in Glendale, Calif., racially profiled her son, Marcell, during a traffic stop.

In a recent interview with Uptown magazine, she said she was sending her son to Howard University after he was profiled on the campus of the University of Southern California.

Turns out the Empire star says she overreacted, according to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained a 40-minute video of an officer’s encounter with her 20-year-old son. She apologized to police Friday in an Instagram message with the hashtag #TurningANegativeIntoAPositive #LoveTarajiPHenson.

“I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department,” she wrote. “A mother’s job is not easy and neither is a police officer’s. Sometimes as humans WE overreact without gathering all the facts. As a mother in this case, I overreacted and for that I apologize. Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son.”

In the lengthy video recording of the traffic stop, Marcell, whose last name is Johnson, is shown running a yellow light at a crosswalk where a pedestrian is attempting to cross. The officer then pulls him over.

After a series of questions from the officer, including if he’s ever been arrested, Johnson tells the officer he has marijuana in his backpack.

“I appreciate you being honest with me about the weed,” the officer says. “I do appreciate that because I do smell weed.”

Johnson complies with the officer’s request to step out of the car and wait on the sidewalk. After running checks and searching his car, the officer, who was joined by several others, issued Johnson a citation for possession of marijuana, but let him go for running the yellow light.

“I’m gonna give you a citation for the marijuana,” the officer says in the video. “Listen, I’m not gonna give you a citation for running that yellow, because that’ll actually put a moving violation on your driver’s license, and you’re gonna have to do traffic school and all that stuff. So I’m helping you out by not giving you a violation on that. All I’m gonna do is take the weed.”

Evidence is evidence, it's neither good nor bad, but a record of what actually happened.  It's by no means a panacea for controlling police brutality, any more than having police is a panacea for stopping all crime.  But police departments should be embracing cop camera and dash cams as much as the public should be demanding them for precisely that reason.

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