Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Stop resisting!" "Why are you trying to take my gun?!"

Here's a YouTube clip that shows a typical corrupt police tactic: yelling out a different version of events than what's actually occurring.   

The tactic is intended to make viewers of audio or audio-video footage believe that a different version of events is happening than what can be seen or what witnesses say they saw.

The deceptive language works best if, for example, it's later shown that some of the footage didn't capture all of the conduct or if the video somehow turned up missing.  The language that the cops try to get on audio is an attempt to justify using excessive force, including those frequent extreme cases of unlawfully killing a detainee.

In this case, while the driver remained completely passive and compliant, the aggressive cops yelled out things such as, "Stop resisting!" and "Why are you trying to take my gun!"  

If the audio had been the only thing available, which is often the case when video is suspiciously damaged or missing, it would have painted an entirely different picture.  Unfortunately, the media, public, jurors and judges are often deceived by these tactics.  

One way lawmakers could deter this kind of police misconduct is to pass laws that create personal liability for cops who editorialize recorded events with the apparent intent to mislead viewers or listeners in the event the recordings are later used as evidence.  The standard of proof regarding the intent element could be: "whether a reasonable person would agree that the goal of misleading subsequent viewers or listeners in any legal proceeding was likely the cop's intent when making the statement."  Of course, a lot of details would need to be worked out, but some kind of legislation (and lawmaker discussion) about this trend is better than none.

All judges who will be expected to hear evidence from police sources should be informed about this trick, and jury instructions in many cases should mention that it's a frequent police practice.