Saturday, December 5, 2015

How many police videos can we watch before they all become the same?

I’ll be honest – I’m having trouble keeping track of all the video now being circulated related to shooting deaths of young black men in Chicago.

Which makes me wonder if the effect of having a slaying caught on video is going to be so overwhelming to the public that we’ll be numbed out, so to speak, by all the incidents.

WE WON’T BE capable of keeping straight the specifics of any one incident. They’ll blend to the point where we just won’t think much of the happenings to any one given young man.

Could we someday reach the point where people won’t care to watch because they’ll all seem the same?

That’s my fear about all the incidents that have occurred since the moment last week when local authorities let it be seen the death of Laquan McDonald on a video captured by a camera mounted on a police squad car’s dashboard.

In that incident from over a year ago, we saw the would-be defendant trying to flee police before collapsing to the ground – and also wisps and jerks of the body indicating McDonald continued to be shot at after he likely was down for the count.

KIND OF LIKE if a professional boxer were allowed to kick his opponent in the groin after knocking him out and the referee had already reached “10” in his count.

That particular video has stirred up so much resentment among many (but not all) in the public that the police public image has taken a massive blow. It also has people feeling sorry for the McDonald family – the ones who settled last year for $500,000 to avert a civil lawsuit against the city of Chicago.

Which may be the reason (who am I kidding, of course it is) attorneys in other cases are now fighting to get similar video made public as it relates to their criminal defendants.

I am aware of two other now-deceased young black men whose violent passing was captured on police video, and one of them now has his death made public for anyone voyeurish enough to watch. Although I think the kind of people who really want to watch this are also the ones who wanted to see Tonya Harding’s wedding night video.

IN THE OTHER case, a judge ruled against public viewing, and a federal judge will be asked next week to consider overruling that decision.

It just seems the potential for dollar signs and forcing the city into a payoff is motivating all of this. Because to be honest, most of these videos are so crude that they really don’t enhance the public understanding of a criminal case.

The cameras always are trained on the defendant to capture every nuance that shows their potential for guilt. “Truth” is not relevant in such cases.

Even in McDonald, if you’re not receiving a narration of what is happening, the incident seems more confusing than venal.

OF COURSE, THERE’S the other bit of video that’s now out there – the stuff from the Burger King franchise across the street from where McDonald died. (Yeah, "Hah, Hah." Burger King captured McDonald's death on video). The Chicago Tribune got a copy of the security video, and sure enough there’s an 81-minute gap in the images from the night he died.

Which is feeding into the conspiracy theories that Chicago police tampered with Burger King’s images as part of a cover-up – which even has the enriched McDonald family joining in the cries.

Part of an effort to detract attention from the reports of how Laquan himself was less than a stellar excuse of a human being – which isn’t really the angle that the people wanting to turn this whole affair into a Rahm Emanuel impeachment party want to focus on anyway.

To me, it’s just too much, and almost makes me reminisce for the days when the concept of “video on television” meant something stupid like repeatedly screaming “Yes!” at the television screen every time Boy George and Culture Club came on M-TV singing “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.”


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