Dash-Cam Revelations In NJ Show Again The Importance Of Video As Evidence In Police Abuse

from the worth-a-thousand-words dept

Several weeks ago, Tim Cushing wrote about a case in New Jersey featuring an officer accused of abusing a cyclist who failed to engage his dash-cam during the incident. As noted in the piece, the value of having optional tape of any incident occurring between an officer and the public should be obvious. On the one hand, the public is already under a great deal of public surveillance, which can often times be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings. Tape featuring law enforcement action is valuable both ways, first in holding our public servants to account should they fail to behave appropriately and second to exonerate them if they are accused of wrong-doing.

In this latest story, also in New Jersey, we see an example of the former. Marcus Jeter was met by police at the home he shares with his girlfriend after a domestic violence call made to police. Once there, police reportedly spoke to Jeter, who says he left amicably after briefly talking to officers. It’s worth noting that no charges were ever filed for that domestic incident. What happened next, however, is another matter entirely. Jeter was pulled over by officers shortly after leaving the site of his home.

The New Jersey DJ, 30, was arrested in a 2012 traffic stop and charged with eluding police, resisting arrest and assault. Prosecutors insisted that Jeter do prison time.

The plea deal offered to Jeter was five years of prison time, for resisting arrest and assaulting police officers. Those were the charges levied in the officers’ report. Those charges, as would later be determined by an active police dash-cam, were utter bullshit.

The video, which prosecutors say they never saw before filing the initial charges, shows Jeter holding his hands above his head.

“The next thing I know, one of them busts the [car] door and there is glass all over my face,” he told ABC News station WABC-TV about the arrest. “As soon as they opened the door, one officer reached in and punched me in my face. As he’s trying to take off my seat belt, I’m thinking, ‘Something is going to go wrong.'” Jeter says the cops continued hitting him, telling him not to resist arrest.

Oops. As it turns out, there wasn’t any resisting of arrest and the only assault occurring was when the officers beat the hell out of Jeter. On top of that, the officers in question elected to omit surely-unimportant details of the arrest from their reports, such as when one of them careened over a median into Jeter’s vehicle, which was also shown in the dash-cam footage. On top of that, police had their weapons drawn almost immediately, despite the fact that Jeter had pulled over to the shoulder as requested and remained in his vehicle, terrified.

Thanks to Jeter’s attorney filing a request for records, which included the footage, the charges against Jeter were dropped and charges were instead filed against the officers. Those charges include aggravated assault, conspiracy, and official misconduct.

Now, we can and should respect law enforcement, but that respect doesn’t come without the public’s right to verify our public officials are behaving honestly and judiciously. Let there be no argument: the public has a right to the footage of officers in action.

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Comments on “Dash-Cam Revelations In NJ Show Again The Importance Of Video As Evidence In Police Abuse”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

I think my favorite part has got to be imagining the looks on the various thugs’ faces when they realized that a camera caught the entire thing on tape.

They pull the guy over, beat the crap out of him and drag him out of his vehicle, try and frame him and get him thrown in jail for years, and then the video is presented. Oh the looks on their faces must have been priceless.

Nice to see the justice system working decently for once, what with the charges against the victim dropped and charges brought against the people who tried to frame him, hopefully the courts in that area are willing to actually go all the way in charging and punishing the thugs, and not just let them off with the typical slap on the wrist, ‘don’t get caught next time’ type ‘punishment’ that happens far too often when an ‘officer’ finds themselves on the other side of the justice system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Stop overusing that word

Their crime was not designed to cause terror?

But it did.

Thugs like these are TERRORIZING people. Call it what you will, I don’t care, they’re scum.

And if the death penalty is suitable enough for their victims, for them to dole out in the streets, it’s good enough for them too.

I think the death penalty is abhorrent, but until it’s gone, it should be applied to everyone equally. Let the pigs have a taste of their own awful medicine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, and...

…do you think this is the first time that these pigs did something like this?

A competent and diligent AG would now be reviewing every arrest they’ve ever made where “resisting arrest” was part of the slate of charges. I’ll bet these pigs routinely beat the crap out of people for no reason other than they could, then got them thrown in prison for “resisting arrest”.

I wonder how many of their fellow officers knew about this but were too cowardly and weak to rat them out?

AjStechd (profile) says:

Again, are police really that arrogant to believe they can continue doing this to people over and over with absolutely no repercussions? There are literally millions of “patriot” type people out there armed to the teeth and when the risk of giving up peacefully becomes to great, things will hit the fan all at once…I hate to say it but maybe that will be a good thing. In the meantime, personal surveillance is new concern I never thought I’d have.

zip says:

Re: Re:

But that’s a large part of the problem. Because cops in this country believe that everyone they come across just might be armed and planning to shoot them, it makes them more likely to use violence as a pre-emptive measure, just in case. Maybe people should ask why police in other countries (at least non-occupied ones) generally don’t act this way.

greenbird (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because cops in this country believe that everyone they come across just might be armed and planning to shoot them

Except that’s complete and utter bullshit. Shooting deaths of police officers last year were the lowest since 1887. Yes, that isn’t a typo, 125 years ago when the population of the entire US was only a little over 50 million. Overall deaths were the lowest since 1957 and most of those were traffic accidents. So tell me again why the police agencies are arming themselves with military equipment and weapons?

zip says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And why do so few police get killed these days? Their hyper-aggressive paramilitary tactics and “shoot first/ask questions later” mentality might have something to do with it.

i.e., Just shoot the guy dead the instant he reaches into his jacket, then there’s nothing to worry about in case it turns out he actually had a real gun.

Scote (profile) says:

Dash Cam Off? Then presume the officer is lying.

This happens often enough that it seems that we need something stronger than the presumption of innocence for the accused. If a cop has a dash cam and it is off when an incident occurs, the presumption should be that whatever the *suspect* says is true. That would get those cops to leave the cams on.

zip says:

Re: Dash Cam Off? Then presume the officer is lying.

This is one of those rare cases when the police car’s dash-cams don’t inexplicably “malfunction” – and we all see the result. In a way it’s sad that the cops didn’t destroy the tape on the spot, since that means they probably felt they did nothing wrong and had nothing to hide.

If anyone wonders why police hate cameras so much, this should help answer that question.

David says:

Re: Re: Dash Cam Off? Then presume the officer is lying.

This is one of those rare cases when the police car’s dash-cams don’t inexplicably “malfunction”.

I am not convinced that the “off” switch didn’t work properly. If the officer testifies that the camera was supposed to be turned off, the recording might be considered to be made without permission and inadmissable as evidence.

Yes, this sounds totally bat-shit crazy. But since we are talking about the U.S.A., not bat-shit crazy enough to be sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I think my favorite part has got to be imagining the looks on the various thugs’ faces when they realized that a camera caught the entire thing on tape.”

They left the dash cam on because they didn’t believe they were doing anything wrong.

That is the current attitude of to many Law enforcement officers.

The way they serve and protect is to beat and intimidate.
They serve and protect themselves because if you are not a law enforcement officer you are a criminal.

David says:

Five years?

The plea deal for resisting arrest and “assaulting” police (there was no injury to be treated, was there?) was supposed to be five years?

Sorry, but that’s ludicrous. For a first time offense, half a year on probation and a fine. A repeat offender half a year without probation.

Small wonder the U.S. is the country with the largest absolute and relative incarceration numbers.

Of course it does not help that the police considers themselves above the law and employs some of the worst criminals, but the justice system is totally off sanity as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

and this sort of thing is not only happen ing more and more, almost on a daily basis, how can anyone have any trust in or respect for the law? the police are playing by a totally made up set of rules that they seem to think gives them the right to beat up and/or shoot someone, for apparently, the flimsiest of excuse. and people still think the USA isn’t fast becoming a Police State? with this type of occurrence becoming a daily norm, you gotta be kiddin’ me!!

BitterReality (profile) says:

Traitor Cops

Those that wage war on fellow citizens are traitors, they should get their trial then executed on national TV Pay Per View.

10% of cops are decent, but until they clean out the remaining 90% psychopaths polluting every precinct, all cops have to be treated as psychopaths looking for their next thrill kill.

citizens can’t take down a psychocop because psycho’s protect each other.

me@me.net (user link) says:

Re: Re: Traitor Cops

It would be more appicable as a reverse insurrection. The State’s instrument (cops) have effectively in some areas declared war on the citizens thereof, and are the predators, not protectors of their communities. In some places contact with police is downright hazardous to your regardless of context. Luckily my area is not yet like that.

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