dateline:03/23/2018, Sacramento, California
Another Case for Central Control of Body Cameras
It was dark. But they could see well enough to hit their mark with 20 bullets to the body of Stephon Clark as he walked in the backyard of his grandmother.
The shooting happened on Sunday after 9:00 p.m., when Sacramento officers responded to a report that a man had broken car windows and was hiding in a backyard. They pursued a man who hopped a fence into the grandmother's property.
Responding police officers were wearing operating body cameras, and there does not appear to have been any malice on the part of the officers who confronted Clark, although the lack of training is glaring. In the dark they saw well enough to strike the victim 20 times, but could not distinguish a white cell iPhone from a gun.
"Hey, show me your hands. Stop. Stop."
Police said the officers entered the front yard and saw the suspect along the side of the home. The man "turned and advanced toward the officers while holding an object" extended in front of him, according to the police account.
"Show me your hands!" one of the officers yelled. "Gun, gun, gun."
Mr. Clark had responded to the command to show his hands by pushing both hands forward, one holding an iPhone. When it was recovered from under the body, it appeared to have been on, its light glaring through the dark.
We assume that Mr. Clark had done something wrong. But should he have been killed for simply complying with a Police order?
As more police arrived at the scene, someone is heard asking, "What did he have on him?"
An officer responded "... something in his hands. It looked like a gun from our perspective."
And this is where an officer signals for other officers to mute their recordings. All recordings of body cameras are eventually stopped.
Perhaps police departments across America are not using the selecting criteria properly in selecting officers to protect and serve American citizens who have rights? Perhaps the pool of returning military men is not where we should be getting our law enforcement officers? The same character traits that make one a good candidate for patrolling in Iraq or Afghanistan or for pursuing ISIS, may not be the character traits needed by local law enforcement officers?
And why do officers still possess the ability to turn off their body cameras? If the operator has the ability to cease recording, how can superior officers determine what actually happens at a crime scene or during a normal work day. With the ability to observe an officers actions throughout the day, superiors may have determined that more training was needed. Plan B has impact here!
This just happened yesterday, March 22, 2018. So more evidence will be coming in.