In most cases, the single most crucial aspect of any incident of police brutality is whether the beating was captured on video, and if the video is available to the public. There is little that can be said to defend police officers who are clearly using excessive force to take a suspect into custody, and victims are often compensated or officers are disciplined based on this type of evidence alone.
In some instances, the video evidence can be so strong that it carries consequences for police misconduct well beyond the initial investigation.
Two Albuquerque police officers fired based on the video of a beating after they were initially cleared
An incident in Albuquerque where two officers were caught on video beating a suspect did not initially result in any discipline for them, yet a second review of the footage resulted in their termination from their positions.
Two Albuquerque police officers had been in pursuit of a suspect who was known to be a dangerous individual. After they had caught up with him in a vehicle chase, the suspect crashed his car and fled on foot. They later found and detained him in a hotel parking garage, where the video footage shows them kicking the suspect at least a dozen times in the head. The officers are also seen on the video celebrating afterwards.
When the footage was initially reviewed by internal affairs, they concluded that the officers did nothing wrong and expressed concerns that the victim may have been armed and reaching for a gun in his waistband area as the beating occurred. A later search revealed that a gun was found in the suspect’s car, but he was never in possession of a weapon during his flight from the officers or the beating afterwards. The suspect also had a long enough criminal history that the department was reluctant to discipline the officers who had to arrest him.
After political pressure and additional media coverage based on the incident, the investigation into the beating was reopened by the Albuquerque police chief. There was a crucial issue as to whether police are authorized in dealing kicks to a detained suspect based on relevant use of force protocols. Officers are trained to use distraction kicks in some situations, but there is apparently no protocol at all that allows for multiple kicks to the head in any scenario. Based on this deviation from proper conduct and additional review of the video, the police chief ordered the two officers to be fired.
The suspect who was beaten has been charged with crimes for auto theft, illegal possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest in connection with these events. It is unknown as to whether he will seek additional remedies against the officers or their department through a civil lawsuit or other means.
The importance of the video
As this incident shows, the security cameras in the hotel parking garage made all of the difference in the actions taken against the officers. Without such evidence, it is unlikely that the officers would have ever been disciplined or the victim would have any recourse. For all victims of police brutality, it is crucial to obtain a video of the incident and make copies to be shared with an attorney and the department that employs the officers. This crucial piece of evidence provides the best chance of filing a successful lawsuit and making sure the officers are disciplined for their actions.
Get help from an expert police brutality lawyer now
If you have been injured by the police or captured a video of police misconduct, there are legal options available. Brian K. Branch has been helping injured people in Albuquerque and throughout the state of New Mexico for more than thirty years. He was also chosen as a 2018 Reader’s Choice winner by the Albuquerque Journal.