Most police and sheriff agencies have now equipped their officers with "body worn cameras." These camera are designed to capture the officer's interactions with a suspect, a witness, or a person of interest in an investigation. While most people think of a body worn camera video as more important in the hot-button officer shooting cases, these videos are also very important in less serious cases, like an OWI / DUI case.
First, these videos allow us to cross-reference what an officer wrote in his or her report. If the officer saw a suspect stumble, lose his or her balance, or show clues of impairment, then we can use these videos to see whether those observations were exaggerated, non-existent, or, as in some cases, accurate.
Second, these videos often contain statements by the officers to each other or to the person of interest that counter what they wrote in his or her complaint. We have identified many statements where one officer questions another officer about a part of the investigation. These statements are fantastic areas of inquiry during a motion hearing or at trial.
Third, these videos often have moments where an officer stopped recording. These are also very important, as we question officers about why it was important to mute or stop the recording. Communities take a hard stance on officers choosing when to use or not use their body worn cameras. We can challenge the decision of turning a camera off or on mute at trial. We can question the credibility of an officer through his or her use of a body worn camera.
Taken together, there are many reasons to request, review, and discuss an officer's body worn camera video in a criminal defense case. We believe that these videos have become a vital part of effectively representing our clients. If you or someone you know needs an experienced defense attorney, call 262-632-2200 today.
Brian P. Dimmer