After a Milwaukee jury convicted a mean, vengeful old man, John Spooner, for the fatal close-range shooting of an unarmed teenager on evidence based in part on a security camera video, Milwaukee newspaper columnist Eugene Kane pointed out what I think is obvious. The video tape made a difference.
Justice for a black teenager: A different case, but many of the same old troubling questions
Video tape of other crimes have made a difference in the outcome of those cases, too. The Rodney King beating, for instance. Yes, the four cops were acquitted in state trial of all but one minor count in that case, but they were found guilty of violating King’s civil rights in a federal trial.
Kane’s column ends with, “(George) Zimmerman’s acquittal revealed deep fissures in the racial gap between black and white and a confounding disconnect between the races about society’s realities. And even though folks are relieved at the Spooner verdict, they also remain acutely aware of this fact: It was a good thing a video showed exactly what happened.”
Consider how different the Zimmerman case would have been, beginning with law-enforcement’s decision as to whether or not to arrest him right after he shot Trayvon Martin, if their encounter had been captured on video tape, beginning with Zimmerman’s first sighting of Martin walking home from a convenience story.
Thanks to Kane, I’m thinking that, pervasive as they are, security cameras have a lot more benefits than drawbacks.