In the aftermath of the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, there have been two versions of the events that led to his death. In law enforcement’s telling, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fired only after Brown tried to grab his gun. According to eyewitnesses, Brown’s hands were raised when he was killed.
But what if Wilson had been wearing a body camera? Courtney Curtis, a Missouri lawmaker, believes that many of the questions that have ignited violent protests in the days since could have been answered. “The audio-video would have potentially provided that, or at least had given us the starting point,” she told NBC News.
More than a thousand police departments around the country are now using such cameras. While agencies are still tweaking the rules that surround them, including how to prevent selective editing and when footage should be made public, law enforcement experts believe they could provide clarity during Ferguson-like disputes. The American Civil Liberties Union supports the use of cameras as well, saying in a statement that they "have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse."
—Mark Potter and Tim Stelloh