BP4: Charlotte Officer Negligent Obedience

In Charlotte, North Carolina, a man who was believed to be in possession of a gun was shot by officers. Keith Scott, a black man from N.C. was said to be aggravated and in possession of a gun. Five officers had surrounded the truck Scott was in, ordering him to evacuate the truck. When Scott exited the truck, an officer fired his gun which struck and killed Scott. The whole incident was captured on camera, via police issued body cameras. However, the problem that soon became apparent is that the only officer with a body camera, who was not named, failed to turn on his camera. Failing to turn on the body camera when approaching possible criminal activity is a violation of department policy. Luckily though, the company that created the camera thought ahead and installed a buffer feature that will save the last 30 seconds of video prior to pushing the button to start recording. The problem here is that, while the last 30 seconds of video is saved, the last 30 seconds of audio is not. This means that extremely important evidence is lost forever.

In this case, the unnamed officer with the body cam is guilty of negligent obedience. The officer failed to follow the department policy and turn on his camera while investigation a possible crime. According to the Washington Post “officers must fully activate their body cameras “prior to or in anticipation of” interactions with civilians resulting from traffic stops, suspicious vehicle or persons investigations, arrests, use of force incidents and voluntary investigative conduct”. Originally I thought that the officer was guilty of stupid obedience but upon further thought it was clear that that wasn’t the case. Given that after Scott was shot, the officer remembered to turn on his body cam, it is evident that he knew better. The officer knew he was supposed to turn on his camera as soon as he exited his vehicle yet he neglected to do so. If the officer had taken due care he would have turned on his camera as department policy stated. In this case, taking the due care to turn on the camera IS the minimum standard and should have easily been followed. Forgetting to turn on his body cam may not have been a big deal for a simple traffic stop, however, in this case a man was killed and the neglect became a much bigger deal.




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