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San Diego Police deals with Body Camera issues

| Oct 22, 2015 | Firm News |


I was reading an article about a shooting in the gaslamp. It will be intereting to see how it turns out.  One issue is that the officers did not turn on their body worn cameras (BWCs). As an individual, I can understand that you may forget protocol when you are in a situation like that.  However, the police should be professionals.  We expect them to absolutely follow to the point all protocols. The Body worn cameras should be on with any citizen contact.  This situation is EXACTLY the reason why the need for cameras is key.  The officers will likely not face any discipline for not turning on the cameras.  However, in tense situations we pay and expect law enforcement to be professional and follow protocol.  Not having the body worn on  camera in this situation will not be a major issue.  However, if officers do not turn it on and the situation is a little different it could means millions of dollars in taxpayers money to pay legal fees as well as a hindered prosecution against a person.

The body camera is good for everyone. It records what is actually happening and not someone’s impression of what happened. As a former Prosecutor, I can tell you without a doubt when in the trial the jury usually believes the officers. The camera will no doubt be beneficial for citizens who had a different perspecitve than the officers.

I will say the camera helps the officers because it will thwart any false accusations that is thrown at officers often.

Video is such a great tool for the field of law. It is a memorialization of what happened. It helps both law enforcement and those accused. One key point I wonder is how long will the video be stored and not purged. For instance, someone accused of a San Diego DUI may be able to show they were in fact not the driver of a vehicle. The video would show who exited the drivers side. However, the police would not be wanting the video. It would be defense counsel. A person has to be arrested, get out of jail, find and retain and attorney. The attorney would have to gather facts before they would even have a chance to subpoena the video.



Two motorcycle officers shot a man, fatally wounding him, when he allegedly pulled a gun on them as they chased him through the Gaslamp District Tuesday afternoon.

The 39-year-old suspect, who was later found to be the subject of an outstanding armed robbery warrant out of Virginia, bolted when one of the officers tried to contact him about making a disturbance and interfering with traffic near Horton Plaza about 2 p.m., according to San Diego police. The man ran to the south on Sixth Avenue, ignoring repeated orders to halt, Capt. David Nisleit told reporters. Reaching F Street, the suspect allegedly turned toward his pursuers and pulled a pistol out of his waistband. Fearing for their lives, the officers opened fire on the man, who fell onto the roadway, Nisleit said. He then began to sit up and raise the weapon again, prompting them to shoot him again. Medics took the man to UCSD Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. His name was withheld pending family notification. Police shut down the intersection where the shooting occurred, along with nearby traffic lanes, to allow detectives to gather evidence. The officers involved in the shooting did not activate their uniform-worn cameras before or during the encounter, the captain told reporters in response to a question on the topic. It was unclear why they failed to follow that department procedure, which is supposed to take place prior to all citizen contacts. The United Against Police Terror San Diego group said they are demanding transparency. “There is no transparency with the body cam footage,” said Catherine Mendonca with UAPT. “Chief Zimmerman has never made any effort to provide any body cam footage.” One of the officers has been with the SDPD for 30 years and the other for 25 years, police said. Police have identified the suspect but his name was being withheld pending family notifications. Virginia authorities had warned that he should be considered armed and dangerous, police said, but that was apparently unknown to the officers at the time of the shooting. 

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The full article can be found here.

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