Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Why the Police Must Be Videotaped

Here’s another case where a police officer lied about what happened and was found to be lying because they were videotaped:

The latest such case emerged on Monday, when a New York City detective, Debra Eager, 41, was indicted on three felony perjury charges after her testimony before a grand jury about a 2007 drug arrest “starkly contradicted” video surveillance of the event, according to Robert T. Johnson, the Bronx district attorney.

Detective Eager pleaded not guilty to the charges, said her lawyer, Peter E. Brill, who pointed out that she had 15 years’ experience on the force and no disciplinary history. He explained the discrepancies between her testimony and the video as honest mistakes.

And this is hardly an isolated situation:

In September, the Manhattan district attorney’s office dropped charges of attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct against a cyclist, Christopher Long, after videotape showed a police officer, Patrick Pogan, knocking him off his bicycle during a cycling event in Manhattan last summer. Mr. Pogan was indicted in December on charges of assault and filing false paperwork, and has since resigned.

In January, two undercover narcotics officers, Officer Henry Tavarez and Detective Stephen Anderson, were charged with official misconduct and conspiracy after prosecutors said they lied about a “buy and bust” operation at a bar in Queens. One of the men they had arrested, on charges of selling the officers drugs, produced video evidence showing that the officers had had no contact with him or three other suspects, prosecutors said. The charges against the men were dropped.

Last month, assault charges were dropped against a truck driver, Michael Cephus, after a video showed a police officer, Maurice Harrington, hitting him 10 times with a metal baton on Delancey Street in Manhattan, according to Brian Orlow, a lawyer for Mr. Cephus.

This is why it is so important that the laws make crystal clear that any police officer may be videotaped by anyone while they do their job, because the bottom line is that they frequently lie through their teeth about what happened. And because they’re cops, they’re believed over the “criminal” they’ve apprehended. Not only should the law make this very clear but there need to be stiff penalties for any officer harassing anyone for videotaping them. And if you try to take the camera away or arrest someone for doing it? You’re fired. Immediately.