Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Let's go to the video tape - W.D. Va.'s Judge Michael dismisses excessive force claim based on police video

In Strother v. Metcalf, Senior Judge Michael of the W.D. Va. granted summary judgment on the defendant law enforcement's defense of qualified immunity to the plaintiff's excessive force claim, noting that "Fortunately, the incident giving rise to plaintiff Strother’s cause of action was captured on videotape," and notwithstanding the spin on the facts from each side of the case, "The video speaks for itself."

I do not recall reading other cases where the judge decided found the absence of a dispute of facts based on what is shown on a videotape, but it certainly makes sense, although I suspect that in many cases even a videotape might be ambiguous. It also makes sense that police videos will be a part of the evidence in civil and criminal cases involving the use of force or claims of illegal stops whenever they are available, for better and for worse.

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