Fifteen years after the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King, three videos of alleged police misconduct in Los Angeles have popped up on the Internet, says the Christian Science Monitor. Within days, the videos posted on the do-it-yourself website YouTube received more than 100,000 hits, sparking demonstrations, heated calls for investigations, and reviews of use-of-force policies. The postings had no prior screening by media or neutral third party.
More eyes and ears on police can eliminate the problems of contrary testimony in court, but hastily posted videos can more quickly ignite reaction that can escalate out of control. Such reaction could be based on edited or only partial clippings that don’t show what happened before the alleged abuse. “The average person watching one of these videos may not have considered the situation that led to the arrest – how uncooperative, combative, aggressive, or threatening the suspect might have been,” says a police spokesman. “If a crime has been committed, a police officer cannot get up and walk away like a normal person can, he has to make an arrest and sometimes that takes force.” He says the Los Angeles police average 1.2 uses of force per 100 arrests, one of the lowest ratios in the nation.