"The camera doesn't lie." In this age of digital image alteration, this adage does not always apply. But when it comes to dashboard cameras, sometimes the objectivity of the video footage contradicts the false claims of the police, causing criminal charges against a suspect to be dropped.
That is what happened to a New Jersey man who was falsely accused of eluding police and assault by two police officers. Thanks to dashboard camera footage that recently came to light, not only have all charges been dropped against the man, the arresting officers have been hit with several criminal charges for allegedly beating the man and trying to cover up the assault.
Police were called to the home of the defendant in 2012. It appears that he and his girlfriend’s sister had an argument and she asked him to leave. One of the arresting officers later claimed that the defendant jumped out a window as he arrived, ran to his car and drove off.
The officer gave chase, and radioed for assistance. A second officer drove over the median and crashed into the defendant’s car, to prevent him from escaping, according to that officer’s attorney.
The arresting officers claimed that the defendant refused to lower his window at their command, forcing them to unbuckle his seatbelt and pull him out of the car. Their testimony helped convince prosecutors to level criminal charges against the defendant.
But his defense attorney believed that the officers were hiding evidence that would clear his client. He filed an open records request that led to the dashboard cam footage from the second officer’s squad car being released.
The video showed that what really happened was very different from what the cops claimed. The video shows the officer ramming his car into the defendant’s as it was stopped. The defendant has his hands in the air nearly the entire time as one of the officers breaks his window and unbuckles the defendant. The defendant later explained that he did not move because both officers were pointing guns at him and he was afraid.
One of the officers punches the unresisting defendant in the face. Either one or both of them dragged him to the ground.
Prosecutors have not dropped the charges against the defendant, and charged the officers instead.
Source: New Jersey Herald, “2 NJ officers charged as dashcam clears suspect,” Feb. 25, 2014