Tags: America's Forum | Ron Hosko | police | body cameras | South Carolina

Ex-FBI Official: Police Body Cams Will Help Restore Public Trust

By    |   Friday, 10 Apr 2015 11:13 AM

Police body cameras are a "step in the right direction" but will not answer every question in policing, according to Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI.

"We have to manage our expectations," Hosko said Friday during an appearance on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."

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"They are going to be imperfect, they're going to fail in a moment of crisis, they're going to fail outside of crisis where an officer's body camera just isn't working that day and they're not carrying it, there's going to be data failures," he cautioned.

However, he continued, body cameras will be instrumental in restoring public trust in law enforcement.

The video released, shot on a cellphone by a bystander, showing a white South Carolina police officer shooting a fleeing black man in the back is "compelling" and "chilling," Hosko said, and will be difficult to defend. The officer, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder.

"We're seeing the death of a man running from police," Hosko said. "I am not ready to convict this officer and he's entitled to the presumption of innocence, although that is difficult to do when you have a video of this nature. He has the entitlement to all the lawful processes of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. But for him, personally, it's going to be an uphill battle to prevail."

What the video doesn't tell, he said, is what occurred between the time the victim, Walter Scott, ran off during a routine traffic stop and when the cellphone video was activated.

"There's an encounter in there that has yet to be fully defined," he said, adding that what, if anything, the officer knew other than a driver was fleeing his car will be key.

"It's going to be incumbent on Officer Slager and his defense to fill the gap between that first flight from the car in what we saw on the cellphone video," he said. "Something happened in there and we heard on one news report from the person who took the cellphone video that there was an encounter between the officer and Mr. Scott, that the officer might have had Mr. Scott on the ground, and for whatever reason then Mr. Scott decides to flee."

In order to be acquitted, Slager would have to show "an immediate and potentially deadly threat to him or others to fulfill the requirements of the Constitution and case law that says shooting Mr. Scott as he was fleeing was the right thing."

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Police body cameras are a "step in the right direction" but will not answer every question in policing, according to Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI.
Ron Hosko, police, body cameras, South Carolina
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2015-13-10
Friday, 10 Apr 2015 11:13 AM
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