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Police Delete Aftermath Footage Of Suspect Shot 41 Times

from the pure-violation dept

We've written several times before about the prevalence of recording devices and the protection citizens deserve in being allowed to film public servants doing their public duties. Some police departments seem to get it better than others, such as the DCPD policy for not confiscating cell phone cameras or deleting footage. Other departments, such as those in my hometown of Chicago, seem to think they can just take your property without a warrant as a way to stave off criticism of their poor behavior. But sometimes we get an example of why this debate is so important, when an officer of the law goes to the egregious lengths of killing a citizen and then his fellow officers attempt to cover up the evidence.

Tom Landry writes in about one such extreme example, featuring Texas police pumping 41 bullets at a man, having a police dog attack him, when the officer's stated and still ridiculous reasons for doing so were pure fabrication. Then, a fellow officer confiscated a witness’s camera and deleted footage of the aftermath of the incident. Michael Allen Vincent, a man who allegedly had several traffic incidents with police in the past, had led policeman Patrick Tuter on a high speed chase before pulling over into a cul de sac. That’s when Tuter ordered Vincent out of the car, before discharging his weapon 41 times, for reasons we’ll get into later. As you might expect, all the noise attracted the attention of neighbors.

[Mitchell] Wallace and his wife were asleep when the gunshots began, but they quickly made it to the porch to see Allen's passenger being pulled from the truck and a police dog jumping into the cab. The German shepherd bit Allen in the neck and jaw area and dragged him out of the truck and onto the pavement, Wallace said. Police officers pulled the dog off, flipped Allen on his stomach and handcuffed him before checking his pulse. Autopsy results are pending on the cause of Allen's death.

Wallace took cellphone pictures and video after the shooting stopped, but he said Mesquite police confiscated the phone and deleted the video and pictures. The phone was returned four days later, he said.

First, I have a few complicated theories on what the cause of death may have been. Most of them involve an officer shooting at an unarmed suspect 41 times, having to reload at least once mind you, and/or a large dog dragging someone out of a car by the neck. Secondly, this confiscation of the camera and the deletion of footage is a blatant violation of the 1st and 4th amendments, as the article notes.

The law states that police need a court order to confiscate a camera unless it was used in a commission of a crime. The only exception is if there are exigent circumstances, such as a strong belief that the witness will destroy the photos, therefore destroying evidence. Under no circumstances do police have the right to delete footage.

Already a Texas Public Information Act request has been filed for a copy of the investigation into the seizure of the cell phone and deletion of footage.

Now, lest you think that this man somehow deserved to have 41 bullets fired at him before being attacked by a police dog, it turns out that Officer Tuter's stated reason for reacting so violently, that suspect Vincent had “backed his truck into the patrol car” (seriously?), was a complete fabrication as found out by his own dash camera. Tuter has since been suspended.

So, in the same story, we have police deleting footage from a witness illegally, while the illegal actions of an officer are only discovered because of camera footage. The juxtaposition perfectly highlights why the confiscation of cameras and deletion of potential evidence is such a horrendous violation of the public trust. I can think of no more clear way to demonstrate the need for strong protections for the public filming their civil servants.

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Comments on “Police Delete Aftermath Footage Of Suspect Shot 41 Times”

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104 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Ah Texas. My home state home. I’ve actually had to instruct police officers on how to follow due process AS I WAS BEING ARRESTED.

I was handcuffed. Taken to the city jail. Booked. Thrown in a cell. Then taken out where for 2 hours while a detective screamed at me allegations that I was breaking and entering into homes and vehicles and demanded I sign something. (Which I couldn’t even read because they had taken away my glasses and he refused to read it to me. I politely declined to sign a thing without my glasses. Not the least reason of which I cannot see without them, at all.) Of course, this signing thing was completely irrelevant I pointed out, because according to the detective’s own words he had me on camera and videotape committing these crimes. (He didn’t, but it was a bluff on his part. One he didn’t expect a 17 year old kid to call him out on.) I was at that point, after a bit more yelling at me and demanding I sign this paper that was literally full of who knows what (I couldn’t make it out), taken back to my cell. A few hours later I was brought before a judge and sent to county.

At no point were any charges mentioned, nor was I read my rights and so on and so forth. I remember laughing at one point due to all the mistakes they’d made. Oh yeah, and before we left to see the judge, the arresting officer gathered my personal items (which included my wallet) and started verifying everything was there. He was shocked to find that over $50 which he had personally counted was now “missing” from my wallet. He confirmed this with the officer who was with him as I was brought in. He then asked if I’d like to file a police report for the theft. I remember laughing at that point even more and saying, “You know, it’s hilarious. I’m the one being arrested for who knows what, I’ve yet to be read my rights or even had them put on a sheet of paper for me to at least glance at now that I have my glasses back, and you have my stuff in an area ONLY police officers can get to and someone stole money from me. But I’M the criminal here.”

Suffice it to say, all charges (that I was eventually informed of) were (eventually) dropped (after 2 nights in county) and I have no criminal record.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

You’re clearly a dirty criminal scum by virtue of having been accused by a duly sworn officer of the law who by virtue of that swearing in is clearly infallible. You probably stole your own $50 from yourself.

Using RIAA/MPAA logic, you’d be kicked off the internet if this were a case in which you were accused of copyright violation, so therefore we’re going to kick you out of the world via 41 rounds from my sidearm. Have a nice day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You should trust officers of the Law, Friend Citizen, because they are only there to serve and protect you. Clearly the Law has only the best interests of its Citizens in mind. Those who do not trust officers of the Law are treasonous commies and must be executed.

Please pay no attention to the body behind me full of holes, he was a treasonous commie scumbag. Aren’t you glad that you have us protecting you from him, Friend Citizen?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You aren’t. If the same standards of what makes a private citizen a criminal conspirator or an accomplice (before or after the fact) were applied to police departments, they’d all be taken down under the RICO Act.

It’s almost impossible for a police officer to be unaware of the abuses of the law that occur on a daily basis. It’s certainly impossible for supervisors.

Deliberately looking the other way when a crime is committed makes you a criminal too. Having an official police policy or procedure that violates the law makes anyone following that procedure/policy a member of a criminal conspiracy. And by definition, a police department is an organized group.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Shoot to kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill. And kill.

Anonymous Coward says:

what looks like another example of a police officer thinking he is above the law and then aided by a fellow officer or officers tries to conceal what was a serious crime. if the dead guy had no firearm or didn’t try to use one, surely there is no excuse for using a firearm against him, let alone 41 times!! having a police dog to attack the face and throat area of a suspect should bring severe penalties on the handler and possible putting down of the dog and start serious questions on the training techniques used

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The officer’s claim was that the man tried to ram his way out of being pulled over, crashing into the officer’s car to force his way out. Had this been correct, there could be legitimate reason to believe his life was in danger, and shooting could have been legitimate. But this was far too excessive for something like that, and the lie was exposed, there’s no excuse for opening fire at all.

There are other reasons that lethal force can be the best choice that do not involve a firearm. A man charging a cop with a knife is such an example. Police are trained to “shoot to stop” in such a situation. That means take aim and hit something that is easy to hit, namely, the largest part of the body. This can be lethal, but it’s a shot that can be made more easily during a time of high stress that would occur in such a situation.

Any situation in which a cop honestly believes some one is going to kill him, either intentionally or not, can make a shooting justified, regardless of whether a firearm is involved.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In this case, the police officer in question justified the barrage of bullets because the suspect attempted to ram his way out.

Except the dashcam on the cruiser shows that the officer himself rammed the suspect, not the other way around (forgot to set his parking brake).

The problem with allowing someone to kill simply because he believes his life is in danger is that it allows the aggressor in an attack to kill his victim and claim it was self-defense. Other facts must be considered. The only real difference in whether an act is considered self-defense when discussing police use of force is that police have a duty to advance where non-police do not. A non-police citizen who goes looking for trouble and finds it is not considered to be capable of engaging in self-defense as a general rule. But that’s the standard situation for police. Beyond that duty to advance, a police officer has exactly the same right and authority to engage in self-defense as any other citizen does. A cop does not have an enhanced right of self-defense.

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

Correct. The Judge won’t read those rights, because it’s not his job or responsibility. The arresting officer is the one who is required to read those rights. The accused can bring this up to the judge how ever, at which point the judge can decide what the correct course of action would be. Generally speaking, if this can be proven, or at least, you can convince the judge this is the case, this can mean throwing out evidence obtained as a result of you not knowing your rights. If there’s not enough evidence left to prosecute, you will likely be released, though not necessarily immediately.

btr1701 says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> The arresting officer is the one who is
> required to read those rights

No, any officer conducting a custodial interrogation is required to read them, not an officer merely making an arrest. Most arresting officers just stick you in the back of a patrol car and take you to booking and that’s it. They’re not required to read you anything.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

No, any officer conducting a custodial interrogation is required to read them, not an officer merely making an arrest. Most arresting officers just stick you in the back of a patrol car and take you to booking and that’s it. They’re not required to read you anything.

Depends on the department policy.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

Correct. The Judge won’t read those rights, because it’s not his job or responsibility.

To amplify this correction, a suspect is to be read and affirm their rights *BEFORE* any questioning, from anyone, the moment they are under arrest. A police officer may decide to not read a suspect their rights, but any questioning that occurs is illegal and the results inadmissible. The departments I am familiar with require admonishment of Miranda upon taking a suspect into custody.

Many departments have policies which require Miranda the moment an arrest occurs, and sometimes a suspect will be advised twice or more (any time an officer takes control of a suspect, just to make sure.) On the arrest reports for San Diego, there is a box which specifically asks the arresting officer to state whether Miranda was read and what the responses were (which must be provided.)

btr1701 says:

Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> Isn’t the whole point of Miranda rights
> that they have to be read to you as you
> are being arrested?

No.

Miranda is not required upon arrest. It is only required for custodial interrogations.

Can’t count the number of smug crooks I’ve locked up who think that they’ve gotten a get-out-of-jail free card because I didn’t Mirandize them. Since I wasn’t planning on questioning them, I didn’t need to. In those cases, I had other, much more iron-clad evidence (fingerprints, video, DNA, etc.) and had no need to question them. The looks on their faces when they get to court and play the “but he didn’t read me my rights!” card– and when even their own lawyers won’t support them on it– is hilarious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

“The looks on their faces .. is hilarious.” I was cool until you said this. To get joy from such minutia and pettiness says much of your character and makes me wary of you being in any position of power. Your job is too deadly serious and too important to have such an attitude IMO. Unfortunately, I find this attitude all too prevalent among LEOs and it fuels the us-vs-them mentality. How about next time, you try to feel a little sorry, sad, or compassion for these peoples’ ignorance? Ah sorry..they are just ‘perps’ right?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> How about next time, you try to feel a
> little sorry, sad, or compassion for
> these peoples’ ignorance?

Maybe if they didn’t do stuff like beat elderly people into the hospital to steal their SS checks, I might be able to find some sadness for them when their attempt to game the system into a getting a free walk for their crimes fails.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

Actually that’s something I never knew. Thanks, though admittedly never having been arrested in the USA I haven’t payed that much attention too and I gather your media is at fault giving that impression that “Arrest means that Miranda has to be read”.

Here in Australia a caution is normally given regarding the arrest (in NSW it comes under a specific act) but the problem here is that people think a phone call is mandatory (due to US TV) whereas it is actually at discretion of LEO (normally charge Sergeant). Quite annoying when people scream that they need have a ‘right’ to a phone call.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> Actually that’s something I never knew.

The courts have been very liberal with the definition of ‘custodial’. It’s defined as being from the point of view of the defendant, so basically if a reasonable person would feel deprived of freedom of movement, they’re considered in custody and Miranda has to be read before questioning.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

I’d expand that to include any cop. Police are almost universally barely-trained technicians in the law, the equivalent level of medical training being basic first aid.

Police have incentives not to know the law, and incentives not to learn it. Police who make mistakes are excused by the argument that they are not judges or lawyers, and therefore don’t have a duty to know the law so well as a judge or lawyer. The problem arises when non-police are expected to have a better understanding of the law than those sworn to uphold it (ignorance of the law is not an excuse, unless you’re a cop).

Would you get your appendix removed by someone who only knows basic first aid? No. And you shouldn’t ask a cop about the laws either.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> I’d expand that to include any cop. Police
> are almost universally barely-trained technicians
> in the law. Police have incentives not to
> know the law, and incentives not to learn it.

Weird. I’m an LEO and I have a full law degree and am a licensed attorney.

Strange how the sweeping generalizations of the commenters here often turn out to be nonsense.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> We have no way of knowing whether or not
> you’re telling the truth.

You have no way of knowing if *anyone* here in the comments is telling the truth about *anything*. Interesting how the biases of folks around here seem to dictate whose word they’ll take based on no evidence and whose word they won’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

Yes, the whole point of Miranda rights is that they are supposed to be read to you from the get go. You can’t be placed under arrest, taken to the city jail, have your property taken from you and then get placed in a cell WITHOUT having heard your Miranda rights at any point before that.

Which is what happened in my case. Except all charges against me were dismissed for a different reason, although I’d have gladly brought up the Miranda Rights never being given to me at trial should things have progressed that far.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> Yes, the whole point of Miranda rights
> is that they are supposed to be read to
> you from the get go. You can’t be placed
> under arrest, taken to the city jail,
> have your property taken from you and
> then get placed in a cell WITHOUT having
> heard your Miranda rights at any point
> before that.

Everything you just wrote is incorrect.

You’re apparently getting your legal education from TV cop shows.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

I see. So apparently, as a police officer, it’s perfectly legal and completely unnecessary to detain someone, book them, lock them up, interrogate them, and then put them before a judge and lock them up elsewhere WITHOUT having once read them their Miranda rights at any point before that?

Well, as a “supposed” cop and lawyer… excuse me if I don’t give a sh*t if you say what that person said is wrong. It makes no sense whatsoever and is quite obviously not wrong.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

> I see. So apparently, as a
> police officer, it’s perfectly
> legal and completely unnecessary
> to detain someone, book them, lock
> them up, interrogate them, and then
> put them before a judge and lock
> them up elsewhere WITHOUT having
> once read them their Miranda rights
> at any point before that?

The only thing in your list above that would trigger the Miranda requirement is ‘interrogate’. If there’s no interrogation, then the police can do all the rest of it without being required to read you your rights.

If the cop doesn’t plan on questioning the suspect and already has all the proof he needs for conviction (a video of the guy committing the crime, for example), Miranda is not required.

Go read the actual case if you don’t believe me. Here’s the cite: Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)

The Court clearly states that the reading of rights is only required before QUESTIONING a suspect. Not when a suspect is arrested, booked, jailed, etc.

TV shows and movies often portray it differently because it’s more dramatic that way, and as a result we have an entire generation of people– like you– who believe the cops have to read you your rights the moment they arrest you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

According to criminal.findlaw.com:
There are two very basic prerequisites before the police must issue a Miranda warning to a suspect:

The suspect is in police custody
The suspect is under interrogation

It’s crucial to understand these prerequisites because if you aren’t formally in police custody, and you aren’t being interrogated, the police don’t have to give you a Miranda warning. This, in turn, means that the police can use anything you say until those two requirements are fulfilled as evidence against you.

http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-warnings-and-police-questioning.html

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

If he was handcuffed and brought into the station against his will, but not formally arrested, then legally he was kidnapped, which has its own severe consequences.

Hauling someone in without a formal and correctly conducted arrest is kidnapping and a felony. So I don’t see how your addition makes any difference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

Assuming the guy actually was hauled in and they tried to force him to sign something he couldn’t read (it was probably a confession, by the way.) then yes, his miranda rights should have been read to him ( and he should be allowed his glasses, too, though that is more related to not being able to understand what you are signing.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

Actually, it isn’t utter bullshit.

And the judge DID NOT read me my rights. He looked at the information presented to him, said can you make bail, no, then county it is. And I went from there.

YOUR SUPPOSED TO BE READ YOUR RIGHTS BEFORE ALL THAT. But what you’re supposed to have happen and what does happen DO NOT always happen. Else we wouldn’t have the problems we do. What with some actual criminals being allowed to go free due to violations of due process and whatnot.

Obviously though you’re an expert on these things and not once has due process and a person’s rights ever been violated by those in a position of authority. /s

Also, it’s G-U-A-R-A-N-T-E-E. But yeah, let me listen to the guy who can’t even spell guarantee right about what should or shouldn’t happen. I know my rights. Like my father always told me, “You gotta know the law to break the law.” And while I’m no criminal, at all, I do know quite a bit of law. And it was not followed the day I was arrested.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'll call BULLSHIT at AC#6

If nobody ever broke the law, no one would have ever invented police.

If nobody ever broke an oath, we’d all be sworn to obey the law as a condition of adulthood.

But people break both, and assuming that because someone swore an oath not to break the law that they are incapable of breaking the law is absurd at best, and more likely to be deadly.

Anonymous Coward says:

But they did commit a crime

They had every right to confiscate and delete these pictures. The police badge, logo, and dog are all copyrighted and owned by the police department. These people were committing copyright infringement when they took those pictures. And since the dog is definitely worth more than $1000, the No Electronic Theft act kicks in, since their cameras were electronic, and that bumps it up to Criminal Copyright Infringement. I’m expecting indictments any day now.

Mikael (profile) says:

Dropbox auto upload

This is one of the many reasons I use dropbox auto camera upload. As soon as I take a picture or video it gets uploaded to my dropbox account. Even if something like this was to happen, they couldn’t get in my phone, and if they took the sd it wouldn’t matter about the evidence because I’d have a copy online already. Hell I even have a number of data recovery applications to restore the files after they were deleted. This reminds me of the reporter who had video of his arrest that was deleted by the cops. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/02/journalist-recovers-video-of-his-arrest-after-police-deleted-it/

I hope these cops get what they deserve for doing this.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Dropbox auto upload

“I hope these cops get what they deserve for doing this.”

you mean paid-leave and a desk job when they get back ? ? ?

*that* is about the most that happens in 90%+ of these cases…

kops out of control ? ? ? meh, SNAFU…

double-amputee, mentally ill person in a wheelchair wielding a pen ? ? ? SHOOT! SHOOT! SHOOT! (true story)

(tragically, you simply CAN NOT make up ANY extreme circumstances where piggies will take out an unarmed person, no matter how young, no matter how old, no matter how small, no matter if in a wheelchair, or strapped in a bed on oxygen, the piggies WILL KILL YOU, then lie about it…

just another fascist day in amerika, kampers:
the donut-eaters are NOT protecting and serving us 99%, they are protecting the property and propriety of the 1%…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dropbox auto upload

Training someone to lie professionally then expecting them to tell you the truth is foolish. Expecting them to tell you the truth when every incentive they have encourages them to lie is insane.

Since mental incompetence disqualifies you from being a judge or prosecutor, how then is it that so many people continue to be judges and prosecutors, while trusting that every word a trained professional liar says to them must be the truth?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why is this not murder?

Well, unless you’re a non-cop. Then they can file charges, deny bail, hold you in prison while they scramble for even the flimsiest evidence you may have committed a crime, then withhold any exculpatory evidence they may have uncovered in the process when you finally make it to trial.

They know they can do this because it’s hard to prove they did it, even if they did it and you can prove it they can’t be sued, their best friends will decide whether to charge them for the crime, and most likely they won’t even get a slap on the wrist punishment. Presidents get impeached and even possibly imprisoned for breaking their oath of office. Prosecutors get elected to be criminal court judges if they violate their oaths!

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

> All cops who commit crimes are oathbreakers.

And yet Homeland Security has designated the Oathkeepers– an association of police and soldiers who have sworn to obey their oath to the support and defend the Constitution even if ordered to do otherwise by their superiors– as a potential domestic terrorist group.

Apparently the government doesn’t like it’s cops and soldiers to take that oath very seriously.

Alyssa (profile) says:

Nothing new . . .

My brother was killed in a ‘high’ speed chase by a police officer 20 years ago. My brother was riding a recreational 3 wheeled ATV (without a helmet) and the police officer (the 19 year police chief’s son) saw fit to cut him off in his squad car to stop him!! Needless to say, My brother hit the squad car, flew over the hood, and sustained fatal head injuries when he hit the pavement! Oddly enough . . . ALL recording of police and dispatch radio calls vanished within hours!!! My mom tried to take legal action but there was no evidence left to stand on . . . granted my brother was no angel and in a small town was known to the cops, but covering up such an gross negligence on the part of a public servant should have been punishable in and of itself. Nothing ever came of any of my mom’s efforts to make accountable the local cops responsible for my brother’s death!

Bergman (profile) says:

Texas Evidence Tampering law

“? 37.09. TAMPERING WITH OR FABRICATING PHYSICAL
EVIDENCE. (a) A person commits an offense if, knowing that an
investigation or official proceeding is pending or in progress, he:
(1) alters, destroys, or conceals any record,
document, or thing with intent to impair its verity, legibility, or
availability as evidence in the investigation or official
proceeding; or
(2) makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or
thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the
course or outcome of the investigation or official proceeding.
(b) This section shall not apply if the record, document, or
thing concealed is privileged or is the work product of the parties
to the investigation or official proceeding.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a) or Subsection (d)(1) is
a felony of the third degree. An offense under Subsection (d)(2) is
a Class A misdemeanor.”

How exactly is that cop not under arrest for a felony? That camera held evidence, one way or the other (incriminating or exculpatory).

mia g says:

Where's That AC...

yyou are a fucking idiot i was mooks girfriend at the time we were together a year and hadnt talked that day cause i was mad at him and i loved him and his family loved him too and for you to make that comment is byllshit. you need to be more understandibg of human emotions and consider the fact was he wad scared and UMARMMED so regaurdless he wasnt the criminal in this case the idiot patrick tuntar was and you and him are the two only idiots

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