In Squad Video – Advantage Defendant?

By Steve Haney posted in DUI on Saturday, January 25, 2014

Video equipped squad cars have become the norm.  More often than not, a dui arrest will be captured on a squad’s video camera.  Usually, the camera captures audio as well.

Rarely, does the narrative of the police report match the actual event as witnessed through a camera lens and microphone.  A police officer’s narrative police report is his/her version of the encounter and, of course, written from a subjective point of view.  There is nothing subjective about well documented video tape evidence.

Slurred speech, swaying, poor balance … and so on goes the list.  All boilerplate language in any police report of a dui arrest.  A standard question of mine for cross examination of a police officer is whether the speech described as slurred is the same speech heard on the audio portion of the tape. Almost always, the answer is yes. Almost always, the speech does not sound slurred or impaired.

The video also captures a persons balance, sobriety testing performance and behavior.  A police officers description of these things will always favor guilt. Taped evidence of the event brings the trier of fact to the scene of the crime at the time of its occurrence.  The judge or jury can decide for themselves whether the defendant is impaired.  Frankly, it makes the officers testimony relatively meaningless.

Is it an advantage for the defense to have a tape of the “crime”?  In my experience as a defense attorney practicing in Joliet, Illinois, the answer to that question is typically – YES!