Body camera footage of Patrick Lyoya’s fatal encounter with a Michigan police officer A close-up scene of an intense clash shows but the video darkens 42 seconds before the officer shoots the black man in the head.
It is the latest high-profile case in which body cameras – known as tools to hold police accountable – have failed, prompting prosecutors and the public to rely on video from viewers for a clearer picture of what happened. left for.
One expert said sellers may make changes to avoid accidental camera inactivation, though it’s not clear what happened in Lyoya’s case, and some activists said the accident was unlikely. Regardless, Loya’s family and their lawyers say it shows the importance of the civilian video. The shooting was captured by a Lyoya passenger with a cellphone and a doorbell camera on the street.
“Keep making videos of the police because transparency is important to them and it’s definitely important to us,” said Ben CrumpAn advocate for Loya’s family.
The officer was on top of Lyoya, facing down on the ground, when he shot a 26-year-old Congolese refugee in the head on April 4.
Body camera video released by police this week shows the initial stop, and officers are saying the car’s license plate was not registered on the vehicle. It depicts Lyoya’s attempt to escape and a struggle as the officer repeatedly tells him to stop. At one point, Lyoya holds onto the officer’s stun gun, and the officer yells at him to let go.
The video goes black again. The police dash cam captured some audio but no pictures of the shooting.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said officers would have to hold a button for three seconds to turn off the camera. He said in this case the button was hit several times during the conflict, but the screen went dark “this was the first moment it was held down for more than three seconds. It disabled it.”
A body camera expert said it appeared to have happened unintentionally.
“That officer, he’s in full conflict with that civilian. And I’m sure turning off the camera must have been the least of his concerns,” said Michael White, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. Professor and co-director of Training and Technical Support for the US Department of Justice Body Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program.
White couldn’t think of another case in which an officer’s camera was inadvertently turned off during a conflict, but he said the cameras sometimes knocked off officers’ uniforms.
The Axon Body 3 camera used by Grand Rapids Police has a large circular button on the front, surrounded by a ridge, so the button is retracted slightly. Officers double-tap the button to record and hold it for three seconds to turn it off.
Exxon said it is “committed to developing technology and training for public safety” but declined to comment further, citing the investigation.
Michelle Gross, a Minnesota activist for police accountability and president of Community United Against Police Brutality, was among those who suspected the officer’s camera had been accidentally turned off, citing the blank button. was given.
An expert in police accountability issues agreed. Sam Walker, a retired professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, called the camera inaction “suspicious” and said it should be investigated.
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Bystander video was instrumental in drawing attention to and documenting what happened. In that case, Derek Chauvin’s body camera fell as he and other Minneapolis police officers clashed with Floyd, who was black. Video recorded by a teenage bystander, as well as body cameras of other officers, were instrumental in convicting Chauvin of murder.,
During the 2019 arrest of Elijah McClain, a black man killed after being confronted by officers in suburban Denver, went off the body cameras of all three officers during a clash. Cameras continued to record audio but there was no video footage to verify police’s claim that McClain reached for one of the officers’ guns. He was placed in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine. He later died in a hospital.
Sometimes the officers deliberately turn off the cameras. In the beating and death of Ronald Green in 2019, Another black man, Louisiana Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, turned off his body camera in a car chase. This was one of several policy violations for which he was eventually fired.
White said some body camera models have a means to prevent accidental deactivation, such as requiring a button to be pressed three times. He said that if it is believed that the camera worn by the officer in Lyoya’s death was accidentally disabled, he would not be surprised if major vendors begin working on modifications, such as additional manual mechanisms or voice activation. He said companies have developed solutions to prevent body-worn cameras from popping off, such as strong magnets.
Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor at Case Western Reserve University and co-director of the school’s Social Justice Institute, said the lack of video in cases of use of force could lead to charges against officers. Without direct evidence such as video, prosecutors must rely on the fair-officer standard in making allegations.To investigate whether a proper officer would have considered his life or the lives of others in danger.
“The absence of video at the crucial moment gives us no window to be in that moment,” she said. “It now puts us right where we were – relying on an officer’s word.”
Bell Hardaway said bystander video has become increasingly important in these cases.
“I shudder to think about the lack of accountability that exists in a world without this technology,” she said.
Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington, DC; David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Colleen Slevin in Denver; and Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed.