California Police Body Camera Footage

California Police Body Camera Footage Can’t Take the Place of Witness Testimony, Court Rules

When a woman declined to testify against a man accused of assaulting her, a judge in Los Angeles County used the accusations she made the night of the incident that were captured on a police officer’s body camera.

This week, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the judge erred by substituting the body camera footage for the woman’s testimony. The accused man’s opportunity to face his accuser in court was thus denied, the court ruled.

“We emphasize that a defendant’s due process right to confront testimonial witnesses against him is not absolute,” the high court ruled in an opinion issued Monday.

“What cannot be done, however, is to boil down the analysis to a single conclusion that depends only on whether a statement meets the criteria for being a spontaneous statement.”

California lawmakers are debating how much state funding should be provided for them despite the fact that there are only 12,000 hydrogen cars on the road and only two models are currently available for purchase.

The decision comes as body cameras are being used more frequently by California’s police forces, most recently in San Bernardino County this year.

CalMatters conducted a survey of major law enforcement agencies last year and discovered that some of the state’s biggest police and sheriff’s departments have provided body cameras to all of their uniformed officers, even though body cameras are not required by California agencies.

Police officers who are accused of committing crimes may be disciplined and in court using body camera footage as evidence. The new ruling restricts its application to remarks made in front of the camera.

The body camera footage was requested by prosecutors, including the state Department of Justice, in part because it involved a suspect who was on probation.

Hearsay is generally considered to be unlawful and refers to statements made outside of court that cannot be independently verified at trial. But there are exceptions, one of them being “spontaneous statements,” which are statements made in the moment that don’t leave time for deliberation. These statements frequently reflect what a person was thinking when they made them, according to the courts.

In the case that will be heard by the Supreme Court this week, a woman called 911 in March 2019 to report that someone was attempting to break into the home where she was working as a disability aide.

When police arrived, they discovered Dontrae R. and the front door damaged. Behind the house, it is gray. A police officer wearing a body camera was told by the woman, who had bruises and a scratch on her face, that Gray had forced open the door and assaulted her. For an earlier, unrelated assault, Gray was under probation.

A few days later, the woman partially changed her account of what had happened—a common occurrence among victims of intimate partner violence—and refused to show up at Gray’s criminal trial despite being served with a subpoena. The body camera evidence was attempted to be introduced by Los Angeles County prosecutors, but a judge rejected it.

Although the criminal case was dropped, prosecutors continued to use Gray’s body camera footage as evidence and asked the judge to revoke his probation. This time, it worked.

Read More: How Long Do Security Cameras Keep Footage?

Source: santamariatimes

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