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posted by martyb on Monday March 30 2015, @12:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the freedom-from-VS-freedom-to dept.

A veteran police officer in Pennsylvania has been indicted for murder after her taser video camera showed her shooting an unarmed man, laying face-down on the ground, twice in the back:

...an arrest affidavit in Mearkle's case said that the video depicts the officer shooting 59-year-old David Kassick as he was on his stomach.

"At the time officer Mearkle fires both rounds from her pistol, the video clearly depicts Kassick lying on the snow covered lawn with his face toward the ground. Furthermore, at the time the rounds are fired nothing can be seen in either of Kassick's hands, nor does he point or direct anything toward Officer Mearkle," the affidavit said.

The Hummelstown Police Department officer, released on $250,000 bail, said she acted in self-defense on February 2, when she attempted to pull over Kassick for driving allegedly with expired tags. She said that he sped away briefly and then fled his vehicle. With the stun gun in her left hand, she fired it several times in a bid to incapacitate him, she said. As he was on the ground, the authorities say she shot him twice in the back with her pistol.

Video evidence of Eric Garner's homicide by police chokehold did not lead to an indictment of the officers involved, which led many to question the efficacy of body cameras to cut down on police abuses. Mearkle's case, however, seems to present a counter-example.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Monday March 30 2015, @01:13AM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday March 30 2015, @01:13AM (#164006) Journal

    http://photographyisnotacrime.com/ [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    Citizens have to fight to hang on to their right to photograph. The government does not.

    As for body cams, recording devices, and other footage obtained by police:

    Dash Cam Video Shows Michigan Cops Lied About Beating Man They Arrested [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    The portion of the dash cam video where he allegedly threatened to kill them is muted, although the audio miraculously begins working towards the end of the video when they have him in front of the patrol car. Also, the three cops who initially attacked him were wearing audio recorders, but they were either turned off or not working, according to Local 4 News out of Detroit.

    Questions Remain Unanswered in Berkeley Police Shooting of Antonio Martin Near Ferguson [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    Berkeley police say the 18-year-old man pulled a gun on the cop, causing him to fear for his life, which led to the officer pulling his own gun out and firing. Police even provided a surveillance video that shows the suspect, Antonio Martin, raising his arm towards police as one would raise a gun. But police cut the video immediately after that motion, preventing the public from seeing the cop pulling out his own gun and firing, insisting they are doing it out of respect for Martin’s family. They also said the officer was assigned a body cam, but was not wearing it. And they say the car was equipped with a dash cam but it only turns on when the cop turns on his emergency lights, which was not the case here. And the only reason the cop was not wearing his body cam was because he had not been trained to clip it on his uniform and turn it on, which takes approximately six months to get it right, said Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins.

    New Orleans Cop Turns off Body Cam before Shooting Man [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    New York Deputy Turns Off Dash Cam After Pulling Over Drunk Cop Before Chaos Ensues [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    A Study in Contrasts Between Rialto Police and Albuquerque Police in Regards to Body-Mounted Cameras [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    Bellingham, WA Police Officer Says He Will Not Get a Body Cam [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    Miami-Dade Police Union Boss Claims Body Cams Place Cops’ Lives at Risk (Updated) [photographyisnotacrime.com]

    The "panopticon" will work in your favor... if you're lucky.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by deimtee on Monday March 30 2015, @04:48AM

    by deimtee (3272) on Monday March 30 2015, @04:48AM (#164070) Journal

    And the only reason the cop was not wearing his body cam was because he had not been trained to clip it on his uniform and turn it on, which takes approximately six months to get it right, said Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins.

    I actually went and read the linked article to see if that was taken out of context, or even a fabrication.
    But no, the mayor apparently does think it takes six months for a police officer to learn to use a clip and a switch.
    Just how low is that maximum intelligence level on the police admissions test?

    --
    No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday March 30 2015, @09:17AM

      by kaszz (4211) on Monday March 30 2015, @09:17AM (#164132) Journal

      It's not lowest IQ for admission. It's highest IQ we will allow. ;)

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mojo chan on Monday March 30 2015, @07:26AM

    by mojo chan (266) on Monday March 30 2015, @07:26AM (#164098)

    Copy should be monitored while on the job because they have extra-ordinary powers over us. The rest of us need privacy.

    --
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  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday March 30 2015, @08:48AM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday March 30 2015, @08:48AM (#164125)

    Or even more directly regarding the headline, somebody could explain what the hell "panopticon" means, for us slow puppies who aren't familiar with random Greek etymology (or is this a common thing we've been constantly referencing lately on SN that I just missed out on from not keeping up with it).

    According to Wikipedia:

    The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly. The name is also a reference to Panoptes from Greek mythology; he was a giant with a hundred eyes and thus was known to be a very effective watchman.

    So...we're talking about cops behaving differently because they're being constantly recorded?

    --
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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fadrian on Monday March 30 2015, @02:07PM

      by fadrian (3194) on Monday March 30 2015, @02:07PM (#164237) Homepage

      Uh, yes.

      BTW, it's hard for me to believe that someone doesn't know the term. The Panopticon was one of the seminal thought experiments/touchstones in both social liberty and prison reform movements. I don't know of many folks who've avoided the term. At least unless they were trying to avoid it.

      --
      That is all.
      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday March 30 2015, @04:21PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Monday March 30 2015, @04:21PM (#164335)

        Well, you've just met one. And no, I was not "avoiding" the term.

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30 2015, @08:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30 2015, @08:02PM (#164453)

        Sorry we're not all as smart as you, or perhaps we're just not sophisticated enough to appreciate the things that are of utmost importance as you clearly are. Or maybe it is because some of us got real degrees and weren't mentally masturbating over in the liberal arts wing.

        I know a lot of cool shit from out of my sphere of influence too. Insights into complicated systems. I can sling differential equations with the best of them. I can talk of many things, such as shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. The generalitites of some of the shit I know well, such as the effects of ionizing radiation on people, I truly believe that people can and should know this stuff better, but one thing I don't do is be a dick to them if they don't know it, and then be a pompous ass by suggesting that they must be actively trying to avoid such knowledge.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JNCF on Monday March 30 2015, @06:22PM

      by JNCF (4317) on Monday March 30 2015, @06:22PM (#164403) Journal

      Don't worry about the guy making fun of you for not knowing a word. You're just one of today's lucky 10,000. [xkcd.com]

      Bentham is a really interesting figure. If you're unfamiliar with his work, it might be worth looking into. He was a balls-to-the-wall utilitarian who loved poking fun at social norms. Here's what wikipedia says about how he had his body preserved after death (emphasis added):

      On 8 June 1832, two days after his death, invitations were distributed to a select group of friends, and on the following day at 3 p.m., Southwood Smith delivered a lengthy oration over Bentham's remains in the Webb Street School of Anatomy & Medicine in Southwark, London. The printed oration contains a frontispiece with an engraving of Bentham's body partly covered by a sheet.[18]

      Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the "Auto-icon", with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham's clothes. Originally kept by his disciple Thomas Southwood Smith,[19] it was acquired by University College London in 1850. It is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college; however, for the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, and in 2013,[20] it was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where it was listed as "present but not voting".[21]

      Bentham had intended the Auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. However, Southwood Smith's experimental efforts at mummification, based on practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand and involving placing the head under an air pump over sulphuric acid and simply drawing off the fluids, although technically successful, left the head looking distastefully macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull.[18] The Auto-icon was therefore given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham's own hair. The real head was displayed in the same case as the Auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks. It is now locked away securely.[22]

      Here's a picture of the head. [staticflickr.com]

      Back on topic, I thought the use of the term "panopticon" to describe citizens filming/photographing the government was kind of odd. It seems much more applicable to NSA style surveillance, where the government is constantly monitoring a bunch of proles but is (currently) unable to parse the data about each prole in a way that would extract the optimum amount of information from their surveillance feeds. By contrast, citizens filming police seems more like the prisoners watching the guard than the guard watching the prisoners. I still see the parallels to Bentham's panopticon, but I would hesitate to draw the comparison without actually exploring where it breaks down. I could see including it without further mention in a story about centralized surveillance (Big Brother), but not a story about distributed surveillance (Little Brother).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30 2015, @10:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30 2015, @10:33PM (#164536)

        I thought the use of the term "panopticon" to describe citizens filming/photographing the government was kind of odd.

        It is probably because you actually know what it means and you're not trying to sound smarter than you really are, like the article title is trying.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30 2015, @07:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 30 2015, @07:45PM (#164445)

    Citizens have to fight to hang on to their right to photograph.

    They also have to fight for their right to paaaaaarrrrrrrr-taaaaaaayyyyyy!