Why won’t video from a police camera or a bystander’s camera tell the whole story?

Although videos of police use of force are helpful, they can’t tell the whole story. They are a two-dimensional record of a three-dimensional event. They only record from one perspective, and it’s often not that of the officer. Think of a football game, for example, where officials often play back video from many angles to make a final call. Those calls often remain controversial, even though the officials have the benefit of multiple viewing angles, consultation, and time to guide their decisions. Officers in a lethal encounter have none of those benefits.

Also, cameras often only record a portion of the event and are limited by technological specifications. Some cameras are triggered to record by motion. Others can distort the action by recording at rates as slow as ten frames per second. So, even when they are present, cameras can never tell the whole story from the officer’s perspective.

Video can help determine whether an officer was justified in the use of deadly force. An officer’s use of force must be judged from the perspective of the officer at the moment deadly force was used, taking into consideration information the officer had at the time. To do that properly, all facts known to the officer at the time must be considered, not just what is displayed on a video.

Show All Answers

1. Time is on the side of the police, right? They are trained for these types of encounters, aren’t they?
2. Why didn’t the police just talk the distressed aggressor into submission?
3. The subject only had a knife. Why didn’t the officer just disarm the subject, rather than shooting him?
4. Why not just shoot the gun or knife out of the aggressor’s hand? Why not just shoot to wound the subject?
5. Why didn’t the officer use non-lethal tools, such as bean bag or sponge rounds from a shotgun?
6. The suspect was shot in the back. He must have been retreating, right?
7. Why was the assailant shot so many times? Doesn’t that mean the officer overreacted?
8. Why won’t video from a police camera or a bystander’s camera tell the whole story?