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How video evidence helps to combat police brutality

For decades, police in New York have -- literally in some cases -- gotten away with murder due to the fact that there aren't always witnesses or evidence of the police brutality they commit against the public. However, this is changing due to the use of video evidence recorded by citizen cellphones and surveillance cameras.

Out of 4,426 recent complaints of police brutality in New York, 794 of them utilized video evidence as proof. These complaints were all filed in 2016. This number is starkly different from the 4,268 complaints filed in 2012 because only 43 of them included video evidence.

Video recordings improve the ability of case examiners to ascertain what actually occurred in a particular instance. However, police officers are not always happy about civilians recording them while they're performing their jobs. Reportedly, there were dozens of reports last year of officers becoming verbally aggressive when civilians used video cameras to record a police confrontation even though the civilians had the right to do so.

Under the First Amendment, civilians have the right to record the activities of police. However, police can arrest civilians who endanger themselves and others -- or interfere with officers -- when making a video recording.

If you plan to videotape an officer, be sure that you have a good reason to do so, and don't just take video for the purpose of aggravating an officer. It's vital to always treat police with respect. Also, be sure that you are not interfering with police or placing yourself or others in danger by taking video.

Have you recorded the activities of an overly aggressive police officer who hurt you? You might have a viable claim to seek financial damages in court.

Source: NBC New York, "More New Yorkers Are Using Video Evidence in Complaints Against NYPD Cops: Study," June 28, 2017

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