Officers involved in a deadly encounter with a homeless man in Fullerton, Calif., were allowed to watch a video that captures the incident before writing their reports about it, says the Los Angeles Times. Fullerton’s acting chief, Kevin Hamilton, said supervisors allowed the review so that the officers would have a chance to refresh their memory and write an accurate account of the July 5 incident involving Kelly Thomas.
But that decision is at odds with the way many other police departments deal with serious use-of-force cases. The LAPD’s former inspector general, Jeffrey Eglash, called it a “bad practice.” “You want each person’s recollection. I would look at the videotape like another witness,” he said. “It allows the officers to conform their statements to other evidence rather than getting their independent witness recollection. It is not a practice that advances the truth-seeking.” The Orange County district attorney’s office, which is investigating Thomas’ death along with the FBI, has refused to release the tape publicly, saying investigators believe it could influence witness recollections. Fullerton police have also rejected requests to make the tape public.