Excessive Force in a YouTube Age
Remember back just 15 years ago when we though that the videotaped arrest of Rodney King was a huge development that would forever change the way that excessive force claims were litigated? In a YouTube, video-enabled cell phone age, the Rodney King tape just seems so quaint and old-fashioned. Today, events like the recent tasering and arrest of University of Florida student Andrew Meyer during his attempts to question John Kerry at a campus event are covered from every angle by potential witnesses and citizen journalists, as these YouTube videos show. And sometimes, as Ann Althouse suggests, even the subjects of the videotapes record themselves -- a theory that's also corroborated by Beldar Blog.
So what are the implications of all of this visibility for excessive force claims? I remember that when the Rodney King videotapes came out, many experts predicted a slam dunk verdict against the police officers who'd been charged with use of excessive force -- though as we know, that didn't happen. Video testimony is powerful, but as with any other visual, the truth lies in the eye of the beholder; some focus on the police assault, while others focus on the arrestee's resistance. Again at the Beldar Blog, Beldar offers a frame-by-frame analysis of whether Meyer was tasered before or after he was handcuffed, which goes to the question of whether the officers reasonably believed that the taser was necessary to prevent Meyer from evading arrest. Take a look at the post and see whether you agree with Beldar's conclusions -- and let us know below.
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 19, 2007 at 05:35 PM | Permalink
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