Police Brutality and Body Cams

Published on April 30th, 2019

Police Brutality and Body Cams for Thurswell Law ArticleAt the beginning of 2018, Michigan imposed new rules and regulations for retaining and disclosing video and audio records of footage obtained on police body cameras. At the present time, these recordings are generally to remain exempt from public records requests, such as when a police officer makes the body cam recording while at a private location.

The recordings are also supposed to remain private during ongoing internal or criminal investigations. When a police officer obtains a body cam recording as part of a civil proceeding, the recording is not a public record—at least not until after completing the investigation.

Moreover, only certain individuals are allowed to request body camera footage. Among those individuals who may request footage are the parents of a minor child recorded on a body cam, the legal guardian of an individual recorded on a body cam, a lawyer who represents a client recorded on a body cam, and any individual whose words or actions were recorded on a body cam.

Finally, police must retain body camera footage for a minimum 30-day period. The retention period is at least three years if the information pertains to a complaint lodged against a law enforcement agency or a police department.

One potential benefit of police-worn body cameras is that they are more likely to expose and help hold accountable those who commit crimes—and police officers who engage in brutal tactics. The downside, however, is the concern over individuals’ constitutional privacy rights. In addition, implementation of the body cam program in Michigan and other areas was costly. Some believe that the possible benefits outweigh these burdens.

Despite the existence of police body cams, instances of police brutality still occur. If you find yourself the victim of an act of police brutality, you may assert a civil claim for damages against the responsible police officer and/or the police department that employs the officer. The knowledgeable Michigan police brutality lawyers at Thurswell Law can fully investigate and examine all of the circumstances behind your case and could assist you with filing a police brutality claim against the responsible parties.

Guidelines for Police Officers

Police officers have certain responsibilities when it comes to using and maintaining their body cameras. Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Reporting when their body camera malfunctions and noting that malfunction in a police log
  • Stopping any recording when the police officer enters a private residence. However, the officer could continue the recording if the officer is in pursuit of a fleeing felon
  • Recording all service calls and vehicle stops with their body cams
  • Not recording unrelated police conversations or activities that are unrelated to official police work or investigations
  • Not sharing the body camera recordings with unauthorized individuals
  • Storing the contents of all body cam recordings for a 90-day period
  • Refraining from posting body cam recordings on social media platforms

Police officers in Michigan who fail to abide by these regulations and guidelines could subject themselves to sanctions and disciplinary action.

Benefits of Police Body Cams

One of the obvious benefits of police body cams in Michigan is that the camera can record instances of police misconduct or brutality against victims. Victims could potentially use this evidence during an investigation or a court hearing or trial.

While police officers are allowed to use a certain amount of force when making an arrest, they cannot use force disproportionate to what a person is using against them. If an officer uses an excessive amount of force while making an arrest, and the victim sustains injuries, then the police officer and/or the police department could face liability. Police body cam evidence could show that a Michigan police officer engaged in brutality and/or that he or she used excessive force against the victim under the circumstances.

If you believe that you are the victim of police brutality, the Michigan police brutality lawyers at Thurswell Law could begin an investigation and attempt to obtain police body cam evidence to help you prove your case against the offending officer or police department.

Recovering Monetary Compensation

Incidents of police brutality can leave victims injured, and in some cases, dead. When that happens, your attorney can gather evidence to prove the nature and extent of the injuries you suffered—especially through medical treatment records and bills. Body cam evidence could also demonstrate how the injuries occurred, as well as the location and significance of the injuries. Potential damages in police brutality cases could include:

  • Compensation for all medical and physical therapy bills related to physical injuries, such as permanent scarring, head injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries
  • Compensation for emotional distress, mental anguish, and physical pain and suffering
  • Compensation for wages lost as a result of missing time from work for the injuries sustained (including time attending medical and physical therapy appointments)
  • Compensation for psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression
  • Compensation for bystanders, such as when the victim’s family member witnesses the scene and suffers emotional distress or mental anguish as a result.
  • Compensation for wrongful death when the victim dies in the attack by a police officer

The Michigan police brutality lawyers at Thurswell Law could assist you with recovering damages arising out of your civil case.

Reach out to a Michigan Police Brutality Lawyer Today

Proving a police brutality claim can be difficult and requires introducing a significant amount of evidence. One of the most probative pieces of evidence that someone can introduce at trial includes police body cam evidence. Since defense lawyers will likely try and keep this evidence out at trial, you want an experienced lawyer at Thurswell Law advocating for your interests and representing you in court.

To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Michigan police brutality and injury lawyer, please call us at (248) 354-2222 or contact us online.

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