The use of body cameras offers a dramatic portal into police work both how officers face dangers and confront situations. Our friends at the New Haven Independent published a video through a Connecticut Freedom of Information Act request that reveals a contrast of opinions as New Haven Police respond to an unarmed man with his hands in the air–and believed to be high on PCP–telling police officers ‘I didn’t do nothing’ “as they repeatedly fired taser shots at him inside a Whalley Avenue convenience store, in a scene captured by one of the police department’s new body cameras.” Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, is looking into body cameras, pending funding, as a new tool. It’s a scene that could very well play out here. See video above.
From the New Haven Independent:
Top cops have been watching that video over and over since the incident it captures took place at 9:18 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, inside Whalley Food Market at the corner of Whalley Avenue and Hobart Street.
The video caused consternation within the department, as some officers feared that other officers had mistreated a citizen and gotten away with it. Those officers’ fears led to a review of the incident by the department’s assistant chiefs. And that review was aided greatly by the existence of head-on video captured on one of the 800 Axon body-worn cameras the department purchased and then began distributing to all officers in November.
After the review, the chiefs came to two conclusions, Assistant Chief Racheal Cain, who oversees internal affairs and department protocols, said in an interview Thursday afternoon.
Conclusion one: The officers involved “did not violate any of the general orders” by using their tasers and OC (pepper) spray on the arrestee, 36-year-old Rashae Jamaal King.
Conclusion two: “We do believe that things could have been done better.”
The department is not disciplining the officers, Cain said. But it has ordered them to go to the police academy for retraining.
Specifically, she said, the officers could have done more to de-escalate the confrontation with King before it turned violent. And the officers improperly deployed their tasers, she said. That’s why they shot so many times; the two prongs failed to penetrate to King’s skin and immobilize him.
The department is continuing an internal investigation in the case–not in the conduct of the officers, but into allegations that someone else in the department distributed an image from the body camera video on social media. Cain said she wanted to make sure the video itself had not distributed on social media, before she made the video available to the Independent.
King–who has pleaded guilty in 11 separate criminal offenses involving drugs, assault, and larceny, among other offenses, since 2009, according to state records–was released after the misdemeanor arrest on a promise to appear in court. An ambulance crew took him to the Yale-New Haven St. Raphael campus for medical attention. He has not yet entered a plea in the case. He could not be reached for comment for this story.
He has not filed a complaint with the police department over the incident, according to Cain.
Full story here.