Cop's Lies About A Traffic Stop Are Exposed By A Home Security Camera Located Across The Street
from the golden-age-of-surveillance-of-public-officials dept
This is undeniable. But why do cops lie? There seems to be little reason for it. Qualified immunity protects them against all but their most egregious rights violations. Internal investigations routinely clear them for all but their most egregious acts of misconduct. And police union contracts make it almost impossible to fire bad cops, no matter what they’ve done.
So, why do they lie? If I had to guess, it’s because they’ve been granted so much deference by those adjudicating their behavior that “my word against theirs” has pretty much become the standard for legal proceedings. If a cop can push a narrative without more pushback than the opposing party’s sworn statements, the cop is probably going to win.
This reliance on unreliable narrators has been threatened by the ubiquity of recording devices. Some devices — body cameras, dashcams — are owned by cops. And, no surprise, they often “fail” to activate these devices when some shady shit is going down.
But there are tons of cameras cops don’t control. Every smartphone has a camera. And nearly every person encountering cops has a smartphone. Then there’s the plethora of home security cameras whose price point has dropped so precipitously they’re now considered as accessible as tap water.
The cops can control their own footage. And they do. But they can’t control everyone else’s. And that’s where they slip up. A narrative is only as good as its supporting evidence. Cops refuse to bring their own, especially when it contradicts their narrative. But they can’t stop citizens from recording their actions. This is a fact that has yet to achieve critical mass in the law enforcement community. A cop’s word is only as good as its supporting facts. Going to court with alternative facts — especially ones contradicted by nearby recording devices is a bad idea. (h/t TheUrbanDragon)
But that still doesn’t stop cops from lying to courts. Cops in Lake Wales, Florida tried to claim a driver attacked them during a traffic stop — something that could have resulted in a conviction on multiple felony charges. But camera footage obtained from a home security camera across the street from the traffic stop undermined the officers’ sworn perjury:
A Lake Wales man, who could have been sent to prison for years based on the claims in a police report, was saved by a home surveillance camera. It showed he didn’t attack an officer, as claimed in the report.
Officer [Colt] Black’s report said, “Cordero immediately exited the driver door and began to charge towards my patrol vehicle.”
It also indicated Cordero approached the officer with closed fists.
Sounds like an attempted assault on police officers — an assault only negated by the swift (and brutal) acts of officers on the scene. But here’s what really happened, according to an unblinking eye located across the street.
Cordero stood by his car for more than 20 seconds.
Black approached Cordero about 30 seconds later.
“He sucker-punched me from the back, right here, cracked a piece of my tooth out. I landed on the ground,” Cordero said.
Despite this being an assault of a citizen by Officer Black (with an assist by Officer Travis Worley), Officer Black claimed he “delivered an elbow strike” because he thought Cordero was reaching for a weapon. This lie was added to the lie that Cordero had “approached” the officers with “closed fists.” The security camera recorded the whole thing, which showed officers attacked Cordero as he stood motionless by his car.
So, what was the excuse given after security cam footage showed Officer Black had lied? Officer Black lied again. He claimed he was unable to accurately recall the traffic stop because it was so “stressful.”
After Cordero shared the footage with police, Officer Black wrote in another report, “I believe my perception was altered due to the high stress of the incident.”
If a regular traffic stop is so stressful it alters officers’ recollection of events, no officer — or at least not this officer — should be considered trustworthy when it comes to testifying about traffic stops or any other unrecorded interactions with citizens. Presumably most interactions are stressful. But that’s the job. And if the stress makes you make shit up about incidents that implicate a host of constitutional rights and people’s actual physical freedom, you probably shouldn’t be a cop.