Tag: police body cameras

University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Samuel DuBose

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(Photo via latimes.com)

University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month that a prosecutor called “totally unwarranted” and “senseless.”

In the indictment handed up by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19.

At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joseph T. Deters, said that Officer Tensing “purposely killed” Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper in what he called a “chicken crap” traffic stop.  “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Mr. Deters told reporters. “This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make, totally unwarranted.” A body-camera video of the shooting was also being released.

“He purposely killed him,” Mr. Deters said of Officer Tensing. “He should never have been a police officer.”

Officer Tensing turned himself in on Wednesday after his indictment, according to reports.

Samuel Debose
Samuel Debose

The death of Mr. DuBose, who was black, at the hands of Officer Tensing, who is white, joined a string of recent episodes — in Staten Island, Cleveland, North Charleston, S.C., and Ferguson, Mo., among others — that have raised hard questions about law enforcement use of force, and the role of race in policing. Video cameras have recorded many of the episodes and nonlethal encounters like the arrest of Sandra Bland, who died three days later in a Texas jail cell, offering disturbing evidence of the confrontations that often contradicts the accounts of people involved.

Mr. Deters, who also met with Mr. DuBose’s family, said he was shocked by the video.  “I realize what this was going to mean to our community, and it really broke my heart because it’s just bad,” Mr. Deters said.  “I feel so sorry for this family and what they lost,” he said. “And I feel sorry for the community, too.”

Mr. DuBose, 43, a father of 10, was just south of the university campus, driving a green 1998 Honda Accord without a front license plate, when Officer Tensing began following him, according to an account that Jason Goodrich, chief of the university police, gave on Monday. Moments later, the officer pulled Mr. DuBose over on a side street, a few blocks from the campus, Mr. Goodrich said.

University of Cinncinati Officer Ray Tensing (photo: nytimes.com)
University of Cinncinati Officer Ray Tensing (photo: nytimes.com)

He said that when Officer Tensing asked for a driver’s license, Mr. DuBose handed him a bottle of alcohol instead. But Mr. Goodrich gave no more insight into the confrontation that followed, in which the officer fired one shot that struck Mr. DuBose in the head.

Another university officer who arrived shortly after the shooting, Eric Weibel, wrote in his report that Officer Tensing told him that “he was being dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon,” and that “Officer Tensing stated that he was almost run over.” A third officer, he wrote, said he had seen Officer Tensing being dragged.

“Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface,” Officer Weibel wrote.

On an audio recording of police radio communications, after Officer Tensing shouted “Shots fired! Shots fired,” a dispatcher asked who was injured. It is not clear if he replied “I am injured” or “I’m uninjured.”

“I almost got run over by the car,” the officer said. “He took off on me. I discharged one round. Shot the man in the head.”

Another officer can later be heard saying, “It was Officer Tensing that was injured.”

At the news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Deters dismissed Officer Tensing’s claim that he was dragged by the car. Officer Tensing “fell backward after he shot” Mr. DuBose in the head, Mr. Deters said.

The University of Cincinnati closed its main campus in anticipation of grand jury action in the case.

article by Richard Pérez-Peña via nytimes.com

Loretta Lynch Unveils $20,000,000 Program to Expand Cop Body Cameras

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Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, speaks at a press conference on April 28, 2014 in New York City. (ANDREW BURTON/GETTY IMAGES)

Just a week on the job, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday unveiled a $20 million pilot program to expand the use of police body cameras for “transparency” amid nationwide protests over law enforcement treatment of suspects, according to NBC News.

“Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” Lynch said in a press release, notes the television news outlet.

The move follows protests over allegations of police brutality in black communities across the nation following several high profile deaths, including Michael Brown by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo., the killing of a homeless man on Los Angeles’ Skid Row and most recently the spinal injury while in police custody that led to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, the report says.

NBC says the program includes $17 million in competitive grants for cameras, $2 million for training and technical assistance, and $1 million for evaluation.

Police departments around the nation have begun equipping officers with the cameras, with encouragement from the Obama administration, which has asked Congress for increased funding for the cameras, notes NBC.

A day after Lynch announced the program, the Democratic National Committee at its quarterly meeting on Saturday in San Francisco, Calif., supported the program and passed a resolution calling for reform of the criminal justice system and community investment.

“[S]ince Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, we have witnessed over a dozen high profile officer-involved shooting cases and the loss of dozens more unarmed black men and women whose names we do not see in headlines or hashtags,” the resolution reads in part. “We can no longer endure the pain, heartbreak and destruction.”

article by Lynette Holloway via theroot.com

Los Angeles to Buy 7,000 Body Cameras for Police Officers

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that the city would purchase 7,000 body cameras for police officers in an effort to increase transparency.

Body cameras for officers have become a major issue in the wake of the shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer and the conflicting accounts of what happened.

At a news conference, Garcetti said the cameras “are not a panacea, but they are a critical part of the formula. They’re a great step forward.”

“The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment,” Garcetti said. “Trust is built on transparency.”

Advocates say the cameras will be a valuable tool for the department. The ability to record audio and video of police encounters with the public, they say, could help guard against officer misconduct and clear cops falsely accused of wrongdoing.

Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission, has spent months raising private money to outfit officers with on-body cameras. He said the mayor’s plan would supplement the contract the LAPD was already negotiating with the camera vendor, eventually bringing more cameras to officers on the streets.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 8.29.06 PMMore than $1 million raised through private donations will help pay for the cameras, thus avoiding City Hall budget constraints.

Soboroff called the mayor’s plan a “very big deal,” saying the LAPD’s use of the cameras could set a precedent for law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Earlier this year, the LAPD began a pilot program, testing different types of body cameras. Officers spent 90 days trying out camera equipment while department officials gathered input from the inspector general, the American Civil Liberties Union and other law enforcement agencies that have implemented the technology.

article by Richard Winton and Kate Mather via latimes.com

Michael Brown’s Parents in Atlanta To Push For Police Body Cameras

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The family of slain teen Michael Brown, who senselessly died early last month at the hands of Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson, are now in Atlanta to kick off a nationwide effort to arm police with body cameras, according to WSB-TV.

Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden (pictured right) and Michael Brown Sr. (pictured), are trying to get legislation, the Michael Brown law, passed that will require officers to sport body cameras while on duty.

According to the couple, if Wilson would have been wearing the body camera, there would be no questions as to the tragic turn of events that led to their son’s murder. Wearing cameras have been associated with dramatic reductions in use of force and complaints against officers.

The couple attended a rally on Sunday that was held at a Baptist church in Atlanta. The pair reportedly felt Atlanta was a great place to start with their body camera quest, because the city’s chief of police is already on board with the body-worn camera project. At the rally, McSpadden and Brown met Jacqueline Johnson, the Mother of slain teen Kendrick, whose unusual death still has investigators baffled.

Kendrick, a 17-year-old Georgia high school student, was found dead with his body placed in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his school gymnasium. At first an investigation and autopsy deemed Johnson’s death accidental, but then his family hired a private pathologist who concluded he passed away from blunt force trauma. Johnson’s family members are reportedly convinced the teen’s death was racially motivated as he had been attacked and victimized previously by a white student.

The stop in the southern city is just the first, as McSpadden and Brown are on a tour of gratitude that began in Atlanta and will end on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

In the nation’s capital, both McSpadden and Brown plan on campaigning for the Michael Brown legislation they are hoping will get placed on the books.  The parents also want the federal government to take over the investigation of their son’s murder.

According to Benjamin Crump, the attorney who is representing both the Brown and Johnson families, Atlanta is a great place to begin their mission on getting laws passed for officers to wear body cameras, “We’re trying to make sure that this doesn’t happen to nobody else’s child, so we’re pushing for the Michael Brown laws to have body cameras on all these police officers,” he said.

article by Ruth Manuel-Logan via newsone.com

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