Thursday, December 4, 2014

Police Uses of Force

With yesterday's ruling in Staten Island related to the in-custody death of Eric Garner, I've received quite a few requests for comment on the video from various media outlets and bloggers. I've declined them all.

Here are just a couple of reasons why I've decided to decline their requests.
  • Most requests suffered from presuppositional bias. Use of the words "chokehold death," presupposes a cause of death that is not in evidence. I'm not a lawyer, but I've been around these types of investigations for quite some time and they're usually called either an "arrest related death" or an "in custody death."  The reason this is important is the need for consistency in terms. (The Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP) collects data on deaths that occur in the process of arrest, or while inmates are in the custody of local jails or state prisons.) This is how the federal government terms what happened, and how they track in custody deaths nationwide. Depending on when the death occurred in the custody process determines if it's an "arrest related death" or an "in custody death."
  • Most requests referred me to a link to view a redacted or otherwise edited copy of the video. As you know, from reading this blog over the years, we analysts generally only work on first generation video. 
I have my own opinions on the death of Mr. Garner. I keep those to myself. If asked questions about the video, I would conduct the appropriate scientific tests and report the results. As a scientist, I go where the evidence takes me.

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