Police officers in Minneapolis who were involved in the city’s first fatal police shooting since they were outfitted with body cameras failed to turn them on during the incident, reports Nevada Public Radio. Mohamed Noor and another police officer were called reports of an assault. Neither Noor, nor the other officer had their body camera activated when Noor shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk, who had called 911 in the first place. The case has since entered the national spotlight because of the unique nature of the shooting, with Ruszczyk being the 911 caller, and the current national tensions surrounding police brutality and shootings.
Minneapolis police were equipped with the cameras last year, and this was the first fatal shooting in Minneapolis in that time. Officers must turn their cameras on when they enter into certain situations. Those situations include before using force, stopping a suspicious person, and traffic stops. The department’s Police and Procedure Manual states that “if a BWC (body-worn camera) is not activated prior to use of force, it shall be activated as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Considering that there is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding the incident, it’s a shame that the cameras were not activated. While there are the regulations in place regarding when it must be activated, there is still some concern over how much the officers have over when they are turned on. There is no way of knowing when or if an officer was in an unsafe situation without the camera being on. The purpose of outfitting police officers around the country was to promote more transparency and accountability.
As the investigation goes on, the lack of any video or audio recording could become a big issue. The case is currently with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Without video evidence, they don’t know much more than what the public knows and what the officers tell them. Without it, they may not have enough solid evidence to pursue any charges, if they are necessary.
Much of the country could be watching this situation since body cameras have become standard equipment in police departments nationwide. However, with so much discretion on the officers’ part to turn them on and off, it raises questions about how much the public and prosecutors might be missing.
Not only should you feel safe when calling 911, but even if you’re charged or suspected of a crime, you should never feel threatened by police or the target of police brutality. No matter what your status, whether you are a victim or a suspect, your constitutional rights must always be protected. Dealing with law enforcement can be intimidating and frightening, but there is always a way to protect your rights. A criminal defense attorney in Nevada can represent your side of the story, and also help prevent you from being a victim of prosecutorial or police misconduct. Unfortunately, there are cases of suspects not even knowing that their rights were violated. If you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly or illegally, make sure to get a defense attorney on your side.