The fatal shooting of a mentally ill man by police officers in Los Angeles has sparked controversy over whether or not the officers’ actions were justified. The police claim that 25 year old Ezell Ford reached for one of the officers guns, prompting the officers to open fire. According to a family friend, however, there was no apparent struggle between Ford and the officers.
The incident comes at a fragile time, taking place just days after the Ferguson, MO shooting that has caused national outrage.
Both shootings have pinned local residents against police, with the former claiming that the police officers acted irrationally and that their actions were not justified. In both cases, no police footage is available as evidence of what really happened because neither car was equipped with an in–car camera.
The LAPD planned on installing cameras in 1,600 police cars by 2012, but the plan was put off due to budgeting issues. The agency now says that these cars will have cameras by the end of 2016, provided there are sufficient funds.
According to the Los Angeles Times, three quarters of police departments across the country have in–car cameras in some of their cars, and about a quarter have cameras in all of their cars.
According to Jubal Ragsdale, President of 10-8 Video LLC, “In Car Cameras for law enforcement benefits the public, the officer and police administration. These benefits include: officer Safety, officer accountability, public opinion, citizen Complaints and the ability to use recorded footage for training and review. Many systems are designed to activate automatically when an officer activates their lights or drives over a certain speed and will activate automatically in the event of an accident with at least 30 seconds of video prior to being activated in all instances.”
More agencies are pushing for the installation of cameras because they not only shed light on scenarios like the ones in L.A. and Ferguson, but they help police departments monitor and address issues related to police conduct and brutality.
In–car police camera footage led to assault charges for a L.A. police officer back in 2012. The footage showed a woman being kicked by a police sergeant after being arrested, causing troubled breathing and eventually leading to the woman’s death.
The LAPD claims that cameras will be installed in all cars in the Central Bureau, which includes the area where Ford was fatally shot, by the end of this year.