Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Winter 2020-21 - 16

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The Eye Comes Down from the Sky
Continued from page 15
	 In addition, the issue of storage and accidental deletion may
become an even more contested issue within the field. Storage
can be the most expensive aspect of video and audio recordings
of police encounters.xxi Arguments for this can be seen with the
Motor Vehicle Recordings from the Pennsylvania State Police,
as many recordings are often deleted for storage purposes after
60 days, which occasionally includes the accidental deletion of
footage relevant for charged crimes.xxii, xxiii
However, case law is
very clear that deletions
not made in bad faith by
police or prosecutors are
almost always exceptions
to Brady violations.xxiv
Police departments using
cameras that officers
can turn off may face
separate challenges, as
such incidences will imply,
rightly or wrongfully,
that it was done in order
to cover up wrongful or
unconstitutional actions
by the police in an
incident.xxv, xxvi

A larger issue will
be for matters captured
on body cameras that
are subsequently ruled
inadmissible in court. Many officers elicit necessary information
to get an understanding of the ongoing crime or incident for their
investigation. Yet, not all of the information officers collect is
permitted to be presented to a jury. For example, the jury may hear
from a domestic violence victim on the body-worn camera that
the defendant " constantly beats her " .xxvii The issue of making sure
footage does not include inadmissible evidence may be resolved
with proper video processing to either delete, mute, or black out
portions of videos that would violate rules of criminal procedure
and evidence. However, this will take more preparation, as this will
either require a Pre-Trial Motion in Limine hearing or a Pre-Trial
Conference between the parties where they watch the video and
come to a conclusion or present it to the Court for the judge to
make the ultimate decision.
Whether criminal law attorneys are ready or not, the wheels
of time are speeding ahead and showing no signs of stopping.
The expansion of video evidence is on the horizon and will be at
their doorstep soon enough. In a field of constant adaptation and
quick thinking, it is a new challenge to confront, but one that its
attorneys can certainly meet.

As more police departments deploy body cameras, less will be
left to our imagination and more images of what's occurring on

16 | Berks Barrister

streets throughout our nation will become even clearer and more
available for all to see.
Raymond Edward Baker, Esq. is an Assistant District
Attorney with the Berks County District Attorney's Office.

*The Contents of this Article in no way reflect the opinions or policy of
the Berks County District Attorney's Office and are the sole opinion of
its author.
" George Floyd: What Happened
in the Final Moments of His
Life. " BBC News, BBC, 16
July 2020, www.bbc.com/news/
world-us-canada-52861726.

i

Id.

ii

Bender, Ruth, and David
Winning. " Antiracism Protests
Erupt Around the World in
Wake of George Floyd Killing. "
The Wall Street Journal, Dow
Jones & Company, 7 June
2020, www.wsj.com/articles/
protests-over-george-floydkilling-spread-to-cities-aroundthe-world-11591524556.

iii

Hatmaker, Julia. " Protests in
Pennsylvania over Death of
George Floyd Result in Looting,
Fires and Police Confrontation
in Some Cities: Today in Pa. "
Pennlive, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, 1 June 2020, www.pennlive.com/
news/2020/06/protests-in-pennsylvania-over-death-of-george-floyd-resultin-looting-fires-and-police-violence-in-some-cities-today-in-pa.html.
iv

Robert Muggah, Thomas Abt. " Calls for Police Reform Are Getting
Louder-Here Is How to Do It. " Foreign Policy, 22 June 2020, foreignpolicy.
com/2020/06/22/calls-for-police-reform-are-getting-louder-here-is-how-todo-it/.
v

Schroeder, Laurie Mason. " Allentown Protesters Join National Chorus
Calling for Cities to Defund Police Departments. " Mcall.com, The Morning
Call, 20 June 2020, www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-nws-allentown-protestdefund-police-20200620-cgaatltmlba35piiqwkyipv6zu-story.html.

vi

vii
Cusaac-Smith, Tiffany. " Exclusive: Yonkers Mayor Close to Deal for
Police Body Cameras. " The Journal News, Rockland/Westchester Journal
News, 19 June 2020, www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/
yonkers/2020/06/19/yonkers-police-body-camera-deal/3213117001/.

The Associated Press. " Britain Straps Video Cameras to Police Helmets. "
NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 13 July 2007, www.nbcnews.
com/id/19750278/ns/world_news-europe/t/britain-straps-video-cameraspolice-helmets/#.VN-wl_nF8y4.

viii

Id.

ix

50 ILCS 706/10-20 (2016)

x

With the exception of the Pennsylvania State Police whom are equipped

xi


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