Not too long ago, the Los Angeles police department issued body cams for all of their officers. Now the fall-out from that issuance is starting to hit the criminal defense arena. There are many body cam evidence requests being sent out by criminal defense attorneys all over LA county and many of them are being answered with evidence.
The problem sometimes though is that the police are in control of when the body cam is turned off and turned on. So, a lot of times it is missing time gaps of body cam evidence that you are unable to get as a criminal defense attorney in order to support your client's argument. Another thing that I'm seeing is that MVARS – which is the cameras in the police vehicles – are also not being utilized in order to capture what happens in a contact/arrest with the police. This is extremely frustrating because a lot of times if you have body cam or MVAR evidence it would be great evidence for the defense that could be utilized in order to win a criminal case.
What Are Some Of The Technical Issues With The Body Cam Evidence In LA County?
In addition to not capturing everything on the body cam, the police are also not always using their body cam or they're turning it on or off at crucial times when they are doing things that are violating people's constitutional rights. This is one big thing that's very frustrating as a criminal defense attorney when you know your client is telling you the truth about what happened during a police encounter and you can't get the evidence to back it up.
Another technical issue is that when the prosecutors send the body cam, they send it on the server where you have to wait twenty or forty minutes for it to download, which is very frustrating when you are trying to investigate a criminal case.
What Defenses Can Be Utilized With Body Cam?
A lot of times body cam does catch something that contradicts the police or supports the defendant's defense. That in combination with what your client said and the surrounding evidence can sometimes be used to win a criminal case. So, body cam evidence is a valuable tool in the investigative process, but it's going to take time, effort and judges and prosecutors policing the police to make sure they turn over the body cam evidence, make sure they turn it on when they are supposed to and make sure they are fair about how they deal with body cam evidence.
If you've got a case that involves body cam evidence, I suggest you sit down with a criminal defense attorney who has at least twenty-five years of experience like I do so you can discuss the case, figure out what you can do to win your case and assert all the possible defenses in your criminal defense case.