Review Category : National News

How Police Across the US Have Used Body Cameras

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York City Police Department may be the largest American police force to begin testing body cameras for officers but it is far from the first.

One of the two types of cameras that are now being tested in New York City is developed by AXON, a company that has supplied the technology to more than 1,200 law enforcement agencies across the country.

AXON’s parent company, TASER, is the leading body camera manufacturer and promotes the use of the technology as a way to improve the conduct of both police officers and the public.

Some New Yorkers, including the mother of Eric Garner, the man who died in July after a police officer put him in an apparent choke hold, fear that the cameras will do little to deter cops behaving badly, but other cities have had a warmer reception to the new technology.

Here is a rundown of how some police departments across the country are faring with body cameras:

The biggest success story that is often cited by supporters of the cameras is Rialto, California. The suburban Los Angeles police department participated in a year-long study in 2012 of the cameras’ effectiveness, with half of the officers recording their interactions with civilians. TASER reported that the number of use-of-force incidents dropped by 59 percent during that time period.

Police in Daytona Beach, Florida, got a lot of backlash from the community immediately after an officer shot and killed former NFL player Jermaine Green six times in November 2013. However, the department later released the body camera video, and it showed how Green was trying to stab his girlfriend, whom he was holding hostage, just before police opened fire.

One intense standoff between Sanford, Florida, police and a woman during a February 2013 traffic stop shows the step-by-step process as the woman pretends to cooperate before driving off and fleeing on foot.

In Celina, Texas, dashcam video captured an officer as he appears to jump a drug suspect, and throw the suspect violently to the ground. But the body camera video from the officer shows that when the suspect was hidden from the view of the dashcam, he punched the cop and tried to escape, leading to the take-down.

Footage from a body camera in Lake Havasu, Arizona, helped in a June 2013 standoff. The video, released by AXON, shows simultaneous views of two flex cameras that shows the end of the negotiations with the suicidal man that concludes in the man’s pool.

One of the cameras deployed by a Greensboro, North Carolina, police officer shows how a juvenile suspect goes from holding a knife up to her throat to throwing the weapon at the officer. The footage from the June 2013 incident shows how detailed the recordings can be.

One of the benefits that supporters tout about the body cameras is the fact that it frees officers from relying on dashcam footage. One incident recorded in Mesa, Arizona, in October 2012 shows how the recording of a traffic stop starts inside the police car but ends up on the sidewalk when the officers arrest the suspect.

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NYPD Launches Internal Affairs Probe Into Eric Garner Chokehold Officer

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York City Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the choke hold death of Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer, one day after a grand jury announced that they would not be indicting the officer on criminal charges.

The officer involved in the controversial incident, Daniel Pantaleo, may now be interviewed by internal affairs officers, but the other officers who were on the scene may come first as they are scheduled to be interviewed on Friday, police sources told ABC News Thursday.

If the internal affairs investigators recommend a punishment, a department judge will be the one to decide if it is enacted.

The NYPD investigation is the second process that Pantaleo is going through, and he is also the subject of a federal civil rights investigation and can expect a civil wrongful death lawsuit from Garner’s relatives.

“This is not the end of the story — only the end of a chapter,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement released Thursday morning.

A Staten Island judge approved the release of some information pertaining to the secret grand jury who decided not to indict Pantaleo with any criminal charges relating to the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes at the time of the July 17 incident.

The jury met over nine weeks, hearing from 50 witnesses that included 22 civilians and the rest were police officers or emergency medical responders.

The jurors saw 60 other exhibits, including videos, photos and records.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Loretta Lynch, who is also President Obama’s nominee to succeed Holder, spoke out on Wednesday, confirmed that they had informed Garner’s widow of the federal civil rights investigation.

“Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation,” Holder said Wednesday.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed that the department trial and investigation into Pantaleo’s actions will begin soon.

Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is now a contributor to ABC News, said the burden of proof is far lower in an internal investigation where a “preponderance of evidence” must be supplied to support a finding against an officer, whereas grand jury decisions are based on probable cause.

Though he estimated that an internal decision could be handed down in about six months, Kelly said it was “very difficult to say because normally they have a calendar for these things but because of the public scrutiny, they’re going to move it up.”

The department trial will definitely not begin this week, however, because both sides — Garner’s family’s attorneys and Pantaleo’s attorneys — have been focusing on the grand jury investigation up until now, Kelly said.

“They need time to prepare their case,” Kelly said.

The final avenue of potential punishment, which may end up taking the longest, is the civil trial that would come when the Garner family files a wrongful death lawsuit. Garner’s relatives and their attorney have already taken the first step in the process — which in New York City involves notifying the NYPD that they intend to sue, in this case for $75 million.

For the time being, 29-year-old Pantaleo has been suspended with pay and had both his gun and badge taken away pending the internal investigation. He has maintained his innocence and put out a statement after the grand jury decision was announced Wednesday.

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo said. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

Pantaleo’s suspension, and the apology he offered in a statement Wednesday after the grand jury decision was announced, was not enough for Garner’s widow. When asked if she would accept his apology, Esaw Garner said: “Hell no!”

“He’s still working, he’s still getting a paycheck, he’s still feeding his kids, and my husband is six feet under,” she said.

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NYPD Launches Internal Affairs Probe Into Eric Garner Chokehold Officer

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York City Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the choke hold death of Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer, one day after a grand jury announced that they would not be indicting the officer on criminal charges.

The officer involved in the controversial incident, Daniel Pantaleo, may now be interviewed by internal affairs officers, but the other officers who were on the scene may come first as they are scheduled to be interviewed on Friday, police sources told ABC News Thursday.

If the internal affairs investigators recommend a punishment, a department judge will be the one to decide if it is enacted.

The NYPD investigation is the second process that Pantaleo is going through, and he is also the subject of a federal civil rights investigation and can expect a civil wrongful death lawsuit from Garner’s relatives.

“This is not the end of the story — only the end of a chapter,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement released Thursday morning.

A Staten Island judge approved the release of some information pertaining to the secret grand jury who decided not to indict Pantaleo with any criminal charges relating to the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes at the time of the July 17 incident.

The jury met over nine weeks, hearing from 50 witnesses that included 22 civilians and the rest were police officers or emergency medical responders.

The jurors saw 60 other exhibits, including videos, photos and records.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Loretta Lynch, who is also President Obama’s nominee to succeed Holder, spoke out on Wednesday, confirmed that they had informed Garner’s widow of the federal civil rights investigation.

“Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation,” Holder said Wednesday.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed that the department trial and investigation into Pantaleo’s actions will begin soon.

Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is now a contributor to ABC News, said the burden of proof is far lower in an internal investigation where a “preponderance of evidence” must be supplied to support a finding against an officer, whereas grand jury decisions are based on probable cause.

Though he estimated that an internal decision could be handed down in about six months, Kelly said it was “very difficult to say because normally they have a calendar for these things but because of the public scrutiny, they’re going to move it up.”

The department trial will definitely not begin this week, however, because both sides — Garner’s family’s attorneys and Pantaleo’s attorneys — have been focusing on the grand jury investigation up until now, Kelly said.

“They need time to prepare their case,” Kelly said.

The final avenue of potential punishment, which may end up taking the longest, is the civil trial that would come when the Garner family files a wrongful death lawsuit. Garner’s relatives and their attorney have already taken the first step in the process — which in New York City involves notifying the NYPD that they intend to sue, in this case for $75 million.

For the time being, 29-year-old Pantaleo has been suspended with pay and had both his gun and badge taken away pending the internal investigation. He has maintained his innocence and put out a statement after the grand jury decision was announced Wednesday.

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo said. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

Pantaleo’s suspension, and the apology he offered in a statement Wednesday after the grand jury decision was announced, was not enough for Garner’s widow. When asked if she would accept his apology, Esaw Garner said: “Hell no!”

“He’s still working, he’s still getting a paycheck, he’s still feeding his kids, and my husband is six feet under,” she said.

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What’s Next for Police Officer in Eric Garner Chokehold Case

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York City police officer who will not face criminal charges for putting a man in a fatal chokehold still faces three more avenues for punishment.

NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted by a Staten Island grand jury and that announcement, which prompted national protests Wednesday, means that one of the four investigation processes has ended.

“This is not the end of the story — only the end of a chapter,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement released Thursday morning.

Pantaleo’s run-in with Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes at the time of the July 17 incident, is now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, authorities said.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Loretta Lynch, who is also President Obama’s nominee to succeed Holder, spoke out on Wednesday, confirming that they had informed Garner’s widow of the federal plans.

“Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation,” Holder said.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed that the department trial and investigation into Pantaleo’s actions will begin soon.

Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is now a contributor to ABC News, said the burden of proof is far lower in an internal investigation where a “preponderance of evidence” must be supplied to support a finding against an officer, whereas grand jury decisions are based on probable cause.

Though he estimated that an internal decision could be handed down in about six months, Kelly said it was “very difficult to say because normally they have a calendar for these things but because of the public scrutiny, they’re going to move it up.”

The department trial will definitely not begin this week, however, because both sides — Garner’s family’s attorneys and Pantaleo’s attorneys — have been focusing on the grand jury investigation up until now, Kelly said.

“They need time to prepare their case,” Kelly said.

The final avenue of potential punishment, which may end up taking the longest, is the civil trial that would come when the Garner family files a wrongful death lawsuit. Garner’s relatives and their attorney have already taken the first step in the process — which in New York City involves notifying the NYPD that they intend to sue, in this case for $75 million.

For the time being, 29-year-old Pantaleo has been suspended with pay and had both his gun and badge taken away pending the internal investigation. He has maintained his innocence and put out a statement after the grand jury decision was announced Wednesday.

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo said. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

Pantaleo’s suspension, and the apology he offered in a statement Wednesday after the grand jury decision was announced, was not enough for Garner’s widow. When asked if she would accept his apology, Esaw Garner said: “Hell no!”

“He’s still working, he’s still getting a paycheck, he’s still feeding his kids, and my husband is six feet under,” she said.

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What’s Next for Police Officer in Eric Garner Choke Hold Case

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York City police officer who will not face criminal charges for putting a man in a fatal choke hold still faces three more avenues for punishment.

NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted by a Staten Island grand jury and that announcement, which prompted national protests Wednesday, means that one of the four investigation processes has ended.

“This is not the end of the story — only the end of a chapter,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement released Thursday morning.

Pantaleo’s run-in with Eric Garner, a 43-year-old man who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes at the time of the July 17 incident, is now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, authorities said.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Loretta Lynch, who is also President Obama’s nominee to succeed Holder, spoke out on Wednesday, confirming that they had informed Garner’s widow of the federal plans.

“Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation,” Holder said.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed that the department trial and investigation into Pantaleo’s actions will begin soon.

Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is now a contributor to ABC News, said the burden of proof is far lower in an internal investigation where a “preponderance of evidence” must be supplied to support a finding against an officer, whereas grand jury decisions are based on probable cause.

Though he estimated that an internal decision could be handed down in about six months, Kelly said it was “very difficult to say because normally they have a calendar for these things but because of the public scrutiny, they’re going to move it up.”

The department trial will definitely not begin this week, however, because both sides — Garner’s family’s attorneys and Pantaleo’s attorneys — have been focusing on the grand jury investigation up until now, Kelly said.

“They need time to prepare their case,” Kelly said.

The final avenue of potential punishment, which may end up taking the longest, is the civil trial that would come when the Garner family files a wrongful death lawsuit. Garner’s relatives and their attorney have already taken the first step in the process — which in New York City involves notifying the NYPD that they intend to sue, in this case for $75 million.

For the time being, 29-year-old Pantaleo has been suspended with pay and had both his gun and badge taken away pending the internal investigation. He has maintained his innocence and put out a statement after the grand jury decision was announced Wednesday.

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo said. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

Pantaleo’s suspension, and the apology he offered in a statement Wednesday after the grand jury decision was announced, was not enough for Garner’s widow. When asked if she would accept his apology, Esaw Garner said: “Hell no!”

“He’s still working, he’s still getting a paycheck, he’s still feeding his kids, and my husband is six feet under,” she said.

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Cleveland Cop in Toy Gun Killing Resigned from Previous Job After ‘Dismal’ Handgun Performance, According to Files

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — The Cleveland police officer under investigation for the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy last month resigned from his previous job as a police officer after his superiors determined he had emotional maturity issues, an inability to manage stress and “dismal” performance in firearms training, according to a 2012 personnel file made public Wednesday.

Officer Tim Loehmann, who shot and killed Tamir Rice Nov. 22 outside a Cleveland recreation center, spent five months in 2012 working for the police department in Independence, Ohio, a suburb south of Cleveland. His brief tenure there was marked by a host of troubling performance deficiencies that culminated in a recommendation that his employment be terminated, according to the records released by the city of Independence in response to public records requests.

ABC News has been unable to reach Loehmann and it’s unclear whether he has retained an attorney. The Cleveland Police Union has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

In a letter dated Nov. 29, 2012, Independence Police Deputy Chief Jim Polak described Loehmann as “distracted and weepy” during a firearms qualification course the previous day. “He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” Polak wrote in the letter to the city’s human resources director. “I am recommending he be released” from employment.

“I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies,” he wrote.

According to another report contained in the file, written by a police sergeant who supervised Loehmann, the young recruit attributed his problems to a breakup with his girlfriend. “He stated that his girlfriend broke up with him and he cried every morning for four months,” according to the documents.

After being informed that he was facing termination, Loehmann submitted his resignation a few days later, citing “personal reasons” for his departure, according to the documents.

Fifteen months later, in March of this year, Loehmann was hired by the Cleveland Police Department. A spokesperson for the department acknowledged in a written statement Wednesday that Cleveland Police detectives did not review Loehmann’s Independence Police Department personnel file during a background check.

“Cleveland Police detectives, assigned to the personnel unit, interviewed the Human Resources Director for the City of Independence,” Cleveland Police Sgt. Ali Pillow wrote. “During that interview detectives inquired if there were any disciplinary actions or incidents that Cleveland Police should be aware of prior to hiring Loehmann, at which point they were told there were none. Officer Loehmann indicated that he resigned for personal reasons which was substantiated by the City of Independence.”

The Cleveland police statement also noted the department has now amended its policies to request a personnel file from previous employers.

Loehmann had been on a brief administrative leave after the shooting last month. He is now out with an unspecified injury.

On the day of the shooting, he had been dispatched in response to a 911 call reporting someone waving a gun around in the park outside the recreation center. Though the caller mentioned the possibility that the person may be a juvenile and the gun could be fake, that information was apparently not relayed to Loehmann and his partner.

Video of the incident appears to show Rice waving around what appears to be a handgun. When the police vehicle arrives, the video appears to show Officer Loehmann exiting the passenger side while the car was still in motion and shooting Rice less than two seconds later. The police department has said that Rice was reaching for what appeared to be a weapon tucked in his waistband as the car approached.

The gun was later determined to be a fake.

Loehmann’s father, a veteran law enforcement officer, this week told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that his son was in shock over the shooting, but given the circumstances, had no choice but to shoot.

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Florida Bus Driver Rescued Children from Burning Bus

Michael Kranik/YouTube(POLK COUNTY, Fla.) — A Florida bus driver is being hailed as a hero after helping to rescue nearly 40 children from a burning school bus.

Kristina Buhrman was driving the middle school students at about 7:15 a.m. Wednesday in Polk County, Florida, when the students started to smell smoke.

“A student yelled at me and said ‘There’s smoke coming in the bus.’ As soon as she yelled ‘there’s smoke in the bus,’ I immediately pulled over,” Buhrman said.

As the smoke thickened, Buhrman hustled the students off the bus while calling 911 dispatchers. The fire grew so hot, it blew out the windows, peeled away paint, and flattened the tires.

“The kids did great,” Buhrman said. “They got off in a single-file line. They moved quickly and they had to climb over the guardrail to get into the grass.”

Florida highway patrol trooper Sgt. Mary Godino commended Buhrman’s actions.

“The bus driver did a fabulous job in getting all those kids off in time, or, as you would have known, if they didn’t get off, it would have been a terrible thing,” Godino said.

A separate fire broke out on a school bus in Texas Wednesday, with 10 students evacuated to safety before the bus was engulfed in flames.

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Navy Investigating Allegations That Female Submarine Officers Were Secretly Videotaped

Rex Nelson/U.S. Navy Handout Photo(WASHINGTON) — The Navy is investigating allegations that a sailor aboard a submarine secretly recorded three female officers while they showered.

Female officers only began serving aboard submarines three years ago and guaranteeing their privacy aboard the vessels has always been a major concern.

A Navy official confirmed that the alleged recordings were made aboard the USS Wyoming, a ballistic missile submarine based at Kings Bay, Georgia. The videos are alleged to show the three female officers while showering or in stages of undress.

The official said an unidentified sailor is under investigation for having made the videos over the past year as well as having allegedly distributed them. The official said the videos had not been posted on the internet. In June, the USS Wyoming returned to Kings Bay from a months-long deployment to the western Pacific.

“The Navy is aware of an allegation of alleged criminal activity onboard USS Wyoming home ported at Kings Bay,” said Lt. Leslie Hubbell, a spokesperson for Submarine Group Ten. “The Navy and NCIS are investigating the matter, and unfortunately further details are not available at this time due to the ongoing investigation.”

Hubbell added, “if the allegations prove to be factual the Navy will ensure individuals are held accountable for their actions.”

The investigation was first reported by the Navy Times.

Female Naval officers first began serving in the submarine fleet in 2012 following a deliberate training and development program the Navy developed to select its first 24 female submarine officers. An early focus was on modifying select submarines to ensure their privacy in the tight quarters of submarines that may spend months-long deployments without surfacing. Since then, more than 40 female officers have served aboard submarines. Enlisted female sailors will begin serving aboard submarines in 2016.

The Wyoming was one of the first four submarines to be integrated with female officers in 2012.

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Protests Erupt Following Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Protests erupted across the country, with about 40 people arrested in New York City, after a grand jury Wednesday declined to indict officers involved in the death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a choke hold.

Large groups shouted and carried signs through Times Square and on streets near Rockefeller Plaza.

Protesters temporarily blocked traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel and on the Brooklyn Bridge, and activists staged a “die-in” at the Grand Central Terminal.

Other demonstrations occurred in cities such as Washington, D.C., California, Seattle, Atlanta and Denver.

In the nation’s capital, protesters marched and blocked off streets, holding up signs.

In Seattle, protesters dropped to the pavement, some chanting “I can’t breathe” and “stop murdering black people.”

Bus lines were being re-routed in downtown Oakland due to protestors, and in Atlanta, demonstrators chanted “Black lives matter” and blocked one of the city’s major streets in response to the Staten Island grand jury’s decision.

Demonstrators also marched in Denver in response to the Staten Island grand jury’s decision.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will launch a civil rights investigation into Garner’s death, which occurred after the man was placed in a choke hold by Officer David Pantaleo. The incident was caught on tape, and shows that Garner was unarmed and posing no apparent threat to the half-dozen officers who surrounded him.

After Garner was taken down in the choke hold by Pantaleo, other officers held him down. Garner can be heard on tape saying, “I can’t breathe.”

Holder said the department will conduct an “independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation.” He noted that many have seen the video of the incident, and that, “all lives must be valued, all lives.”

He said the federal investigation would review all aspects of the case. “We must seek to heal the breakdown in trust that we have seen, “ he said.

The Staten Island decision follows a similar finding by a grand jury in Missouri in the case of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black teen who was shot in a confrontation with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

The Missouri grand jury decision sparked violent demonstrations in Ferguson, and days of protests in dozens of cities around the country.

The attorney general pointed out these incidents “have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect.” He added, “This is not a New York issue or a Ferguson issue alone. Those who have protested peacefully across our great nation following the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson have made that clear.”

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Missouri City Watching Out for Inattentive Drivers

iStock/Thinkstock(O’FALLON, Mo.) — Watch out if you’re driving through O’Fallon, Missouri. You might get stopped by a cop for “inattentive driving.”

That includes things like applying makeup or even inputting information into your GPS.

Although one lawmaker suggested the restrictions are un-American, the City Council decided anyway to broaden the ordinance that forbids texting while behind the wheel of a car.

Police Chief Roy Joachimstaler says the new law doesn’t give cops license to stop people from eating a candy bar or sipping a cup of coffee. It will mainly be used during accident investigations with violators facing fines of up to $500 and/or three months in jail.

Just the same, there’s already a petition drive to put a referendum on the ballot next April with the intent of doing away with inattentive driving restrictions. Or, the City Council could just repeal it.

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