NEW YORK — The federal judge who ruled that the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy violated civil rights said in a speech that body cameras could have prevented the deaths of two men by police.
Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered a pilot program of body-worn cameras in five precincts as part of her sweeping ruling last year that police officers sometimes carried out stop and frisk unconstitutionally by discriminating against minorities. She said at the time that a recording of interactions between police and the public would help curb wrongful stops. The NYPD said three weeks ago it would begin the project but it was in the preliminary stages.
Scheindlin said during a speech last week at the Bronx County Bar Association that the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, could have been prevented.
“In Staten Island, an unarmed man was killed by policemen arresting him for trafficking in untaxed cigarettes, and in Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed teenager was shot six times and killed by police officers,” she said. “If the police in both of those encounters had been wearing body cameras, I expect that neither incident would have ended with a dead body.”
The speech was first reported by NY 1 News.
Scheindlin said the footage from officer-worn cameras could be useful for training. “For one thought, is you could film a number of actual stops and arrests and then you could play back those films and you could use them for teaching and training to see whether what was done was right or was wrong,” she said.
The federal judge was removed from the stop and frisk case during an appeal last year by the city. A three-judge panel with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said she had run afoul of court rules in the manner that she originally took the cases and in statements she made to reporters in interviews while she presided over the trial.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has dropped the city’s objections, but the ruling remains on hold as the police unions fight to take over the appeal.