For much of modern U.S. history, police officers were considered by most judges and jurors to be the most reliable narrators in a courtroom. The increasing prevalence of camera footage eroded that bedrock of the justice system. A new reality has set in for cops, lawyers, and judges: Videos have replaced police reports and testimony as the most credible version of events, proving time and again, with increasing frequency, that police officers lie, BuzzFeed News reports.
BuzzFeed reviewed 62 examples since 2008, including 40 since 2014, of video footage contradicting a cop’s statement in a police report or testimony. Nine of these videos captured high-profile abuses that led to protests, dominated Twitter timelines, and drew coverage from more than a few national news outlets. The other 53 incidents came and went without much attention beyond that from local residents and reporters. In almost every case, the officers lied to justify their actions retroactively. Law Prof. Myron Orfield of the University of Minnesota surveyed dozens of Chicago prosecutors, defense attorneys,and judges in Chicago for a study in the University of Chicago Law Review in 1992. Fifty-two percent of them responded that prosecutors “know or have reason to know” that an officer fabricated evidence “at least half of the time.” Nearly 90 percent of prosecutors responded that they were aware of police perjury in cases “at least some of the time.” Of the 62 incidents BuzzFeed reviewed, only 22 led to charges being filed against an officer, and of those, only nine have resulted in convictions.