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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes / Posted on July 17, 2018

"A day after Chicago police released a 20-second video of a fatal police shooting that sparked unrest and outrage, city officials said there are no immediate plans to release additional footage that could shed more light on the deadly encounter," the Tribune reports.

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"One key question about the footage released Sunday was its lack of audio. When the body-worn cameras are initially powered on, they record video only. Audio kicks in as soon as the officer double-taps a button on the camera and puts it into 'event mode.'

"Department orders dictate that officers switch to event mode "at the beginning of an incident and will record the entire incident for all law-enforcement-related activities." The order also notes that if "circumstances" prevent the activation at the start of an incident, the officer should do so "as soon as practical."

"Steve Tuttle, a spokesman with the company that manufacturers the cameras used by Chicago, said it is not uncommon for officers, in the midst of responding to a call, to forget to double-tap the camera as a situation quickly develops."

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Tuttle told ABC7's Chuck Goudie that "A lot of people have some misconceptions about this Axon Body 2 camera.

Tuttle said the police cameras are recording video at all times, but audio is activated only when officers push a start button when a incident is beginning.

On Saturday that apparently happened only after the actual shooting, leaving police with approximately 30 seconds of silent "buffer" video that is regularly recorded by the devices.

Officials say the body cameras do not routinely record audio because it "protects the officer's privacy," according to Tuttle.

"I could be patrolling around in a squad car for an hour or two with my partner and we could be talking about the chief or personal things. But until policy says you need to begin recording, it protects that privacy and that's why when people see these videos the first 30 seconds, there's no sound," he said.

Why do we need the audio when we've already seen that Harith Augustus was armed, ran from the cops and appeared to reach for his weapon? To answer these questions:

1. Did police create the situation, possibly with an unlawful stop?

2. Did police escalate the situation, in particular, when one officer reached for Augustus's hand (or gun) from behind/his side?

3. When were the first shots fired - before or after Augustus appeared to reach for his own weapon?

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Here's mayoral candidate Troy LaRaviere, who has provided the most extensive comments - as far as I can tell - of any public official.

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The Sun-Times also has comments from Garry McCarthy, Lori Lightfoot and Paul Vallas.

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"Investigators looking into Saturday's fatal police shooting in the South Shore neighborhood will have 'tons' of video to review, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says. It will likely take months for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to determine whether the shooting was justified," the Tribune says in an editorial.

"But Johnson took the unusual step of releasing a video clip - less than half a minute long - within 24 hours after the shooting. He hoped it would calm protesters by answering the key question of whether Harith Augustus was armed. On Monday, COPA promised to release the rest 'at the earliest point.'"

Maybe there's a good reason why it will take months to determine whether the shooting was justified, but I'd sure like someone to explain it to me.

It's also not clear to me why CPD and/or COPA doesn't release all of the video, outside of wanting to control the narrative by ultimately pairing it with the results of COPA's investigation. I understand that in releasing everything at once folks can take bits and pieces and create their own versions of what happened, but maybe that's the price we have to pay for transparency. Then again, maybe COPA's approach is reasonable. I really don't know. After all, there is an investigation going on, it's just not of the dead suspect but of the officers involved in killing him. But timeliness is in the public interest - and the videos are public records.

"Within weeks of the [Laquan] McDonald shooting, the city announced a new policy: Audio and video recordings of police encounters involving deadly force are now made public within 90 days," the Tribune recalls in its editorial.

"We'll point out, again, that the Illinois Freedom of Information Act generally requires public bodies to respond to records requests sooner than that. City Hall was violating that law by withholding the McDonald video without a valid exemption. Remember?"

How could anyone forget.

*

Just when it looked like CPS had superceded CPD as the key to the mayoral campaign, CPD is back on the forefront. This does not bode well for Rahm - nor McCarthy, really, who also, of course, has the stink of Laquan McDonald's death on him. This morning we learned that the trial of the officer who killed McDonald, Jason Van Dyke, has been set for September 5.

The candidacy of Lightfoot, who came face to face with the anger of African Americans toward city police as chair of the mayor's accountability task force, and reflected that back in the task force's blistering report, now ascends. LaRaviere may get a little boost. No one thinks Vallas is the person to handle these kinds of moments; it's not clear this is the sort of thing in his toolbox, which is why he'd make, say, a better governor than mayor. Rahm's coming machinations may just remind people how exhausted they are of him. Regardless of the details of Harith Augustus's death, which is sad and tragic in any case, an awful lot of people want change.

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Finally, even the rabid right-wing media-hater spokesperson for the Chicago FOP thinks Fran Spielman's typical stenography is a bit much.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

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The Ex-Cub Factor
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From the Beachwood music desk . . .

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
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Permalink


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Surprise: Sinclair-Tribune Merger Maimed.
POLITICS - How Affirmative Action Fight Threatens Harvard's Whites.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - How To Fix Scholarly Publishing.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: Wells At Dearborn.


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