Tags: America's Forum | Alan Dershowitz | south carolina | body camera | racially motivated | police

Dershowitz: SC Shooting Shows Need for Police Body Cams

By    |   Wednesday, 08 April 2015 11:15 AM

The videotape of a white South Carolina police officer fatally shooting a fleeing black man on Saturday bolsters the argument for police to wear body cameras, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and former New York Police Department detective Thomas Ruskin said Wednesday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV.

"I have said repeatedly … that police officers should wear cameras and should have it activated when they get in any kind of confrontation," Ruskin told Newsmax TV host J.D. Hayworth. "Something like this may eliminate ... this type of incident from happening.

'And if it does happen, it'll tell a story quite quickly to the police officials and the people who have to investigate this shooting."

Story continues below video.

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While the videotape in South Carolina "makes all the difference in the world," Dershowitz cautioned that it does not show whether the shooting was racially motivated.

"Whether or not the rest of the unfolding event was an instance of a bad policeman showing his power because he had been dissed or had been attacked, or whether it was racially motivated, that we'll never know from the videotape," he said.

Video can play a crucial role, he added, but it is only one tool.

"I'm aware of a case in Florida where a sleazy lawyer, a prosecutor, actually worked with some bad cops to change a video and create a false context, and they were sued for it. ... The court, unfortunately, found that there was prosecutorial immunity and didn't resolve the issue.

"Videotapes can be tampered with, they can be cut, they can be started at a certain point and ended at a certain point and yeah, that's a real problem," Dershowitz said. "Also, when you turn on the video.

"I've had cases where a confession was videotaped, but what wasn't videotaped was what lead up to the confession. So videotape is a not a panacea. It won't solve all the problems, but it certainly gives us an eye on a situation that we didn't previously have."

An unidentified person shot footage of North Charleston Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager firing eight shots at Walter Lamer Scott as he ran away. After the eighth shot, Scott dropped to the ground. Slager, who has been charged with murder, had stopped Scott for a broken taillight.

Dershowitz said he teaches his law students not to do anything they don’t want captured on video "because you have to assume your life is videotaped. And if this policeman had realized that, maybe he wouldn't have acted the way he did."

"Citizens with videotapes," he added, "now are changing the world. For better or worse, but they're changing the world."

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The videotape of a white South Carolina police officer fatally shooting a fleeing black man on Saturday bolsters the argument for police to wear body cameras, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Wednesday.
Alan Dershowitz, south carolina, body camera, racially motivated, police
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2015-15-08
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 11:15 AM
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