There should be a right to video-record police

15041thedifferenceHat tip to The Weekly Sift

Michael Slager, a policeman in North Charleston, S.C., said he shot and killed 50-year-old Walter Scott because they were engaged in a violent altercation, and Scott grabbed for Slager’s Taser.

There would have been hardly any way to challenge that story if a brave soul named Feidin Santana hadn’t recorded the incident and come forward with the video.

The North Charleston Police Department did do the right thing, by filing murder charges against Slager, once they saw the video.

Unfortunately the public can’t count on somebody with a video camera being in the vicinity every time there is a fatal police shooting.

And more unfortunately still, it’s unclear whether there is a legal or constitutional right to videotape police officers in the course of their duty.  Santana’s camera could very well have been confiscated and the record destroyed.

It would be nice if American police departments made a practice of video recording all police encounters with the public, but I suspect that recordings might have a tendency to be lost or destroyed in cases such as this.

I think there should be laws in every state upholding the right to make video recordings of police and other government employees when they are on duty and in public, subject to restrictions to keep the video photographer from physically getting in the way of police and others doing their jobs.

LINKS

In Many States, Including South Carolina, the Right to Videotape Police Isn’t All That Clear by Daniel Denvir for The Atlantic.  [Hat tip to Cop in the Hood]

Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before a Video Showed What Really Happened by Judd Legum for ThinkProgress.

Walter Scott Shooting Video Caught Police Propaganda Machine in Action by Andrew Jewell Jones for The Intercept.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “There should be a right to video-record police”

  1. Gabriel Conroy Says:

    I agree. If I’m not mistaken, the courts in Illinois recently (within the last year) have upheld the right to record and overturned a strict law banning it. At least I think so. I don’t really know where the law here stands now. But it’s a shame if one can’t record public servants in the course of their duties, especially if we’re talking about public servants with the special prerogative to use violence.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: