Did you know that 85% of investigations include video evidence? If you follow us at iNPUT-ACE you likely know how much we emphasize the importance of getting the video evidence right.
The 2021 Video Evidence Trends survey revealed that 96% of Investigators, Detectives, and Detective Sergeants believe that video evidence is critical during investigations. Numbers and statistics are helpful, but sometimes we need actual stories to help recognize the importance of something.
During a recent panel, we asked three different experts in the field of video evidence for any stories that could help illustrate the critical nature of video evidence. You can hear their stories by watching the video below, or you can read the transcript further down the page.
If you find this video interesting, then make sure you check out our On-Demand Training Symposium content. This 6-minute video is actually part of a 90-minute session from the 2021 Video Evidence Symposium, and there are several other videos featuring thought leaders who teach about video investigations, testifying in court, calculating speed and distance, and more!
Video Transcript: Why Video Evidence is Critical
Can anyone on the panel, share a story and obviously leave out the names to protect the innocent as they say, or an example where the video was the most critical piece of evidence, in a prosecution or a trial. And, I’ll throw that out to all three of you. I mean, all three of you have very different perspectives from that standpoint.
I’ll take that one first, Mike.
We actually had a federal civil case involving our agency, and we had a few key pieces of NVR footage of that particular incident. I prepared all of the demonstratives for that particular trial, and as it unfolded, we played one of the angles of the video evidence, and I was able to have the original video playing, with a portion of it zoomed-in, next to the original. This is a demonstrative I use quite often.
I still remember the jury looking at that on their monitors. In the federal court, each juror had a computer monitor right in front of them, and they’re looking at each other and they’re pointing at the actions of the suspect and it was just, it was almost like, wow, yeah, that’s right there. Right out of the gate, just with that one particular video being used that way, I think that really set the tone for the rest of the proceedings. So that one really sticks out in my mind because I was looking over at the jurors when they were watching this video that we had reviewed and prepared for the trial and it was pretty impactful.
Outstanding. Thank you for sharing. Michael, how about from your background?
Fortunately or unfortunately, I could probably spend four hours just on stories. Here in Chicago, we get a lot of practice. You can either say it’s bad or good, depending on your point of view.
I mean, everybody knows the Jussie Smollett story. That was a story that really was broken by video, helped out by iNPUT-ACE with a certain cab proprietary player that the people at the scene didn’t know which one, because there were four or five different ones, and that video file led us down the correct path.
From Commander Bauer’s in the line of duty death. I did a very detailed demonstrative for that trial, and my feather in my cap was that the defense never asked me one question. So, when you do things properly, at least I try to do (everybody does), that gives you a sense of pride.
Another one real quick: recently a guy called and said his girlfriend committed suicide. The police get there, and she’s got 10 stab wounds and two gunshot wounds. So everyone’s like “what?”
Then he says, “don’t look at my phone there may be some incriminating messages.”
He also says, “Yes, I’ll take a lie detector test.” Even though we can’t use it in court, it’s another tool. He fails that. He’s also got gunshot residue on his hands.
But then there’s this video camera that’s in the residence, one of those cameras that you record inside of your residence to see if there are burglars. It belonged to the dead victim.
They did a legal service on that camera, and when they got the footage, you see the guy sleeping on the couch. He awakens to the girl walking past and he goes, “what happened to you?” “Oh, I cut myself.” She’s bleeding everywhere. Later, he’s there in another frame cleaning the kitchen when you hear two gunshots.
Without that video, who wouldn’t think that guy was the murderer? That’s how important video evidence is in your investigation.
Wow. That’s not where I thought that story was going. That was pretty dramatic. Thank you for that. That’s, that’s an outstanding example of how video evidence is critical and just everywhere today.
Grant, how about yourself?
Well, you know, no expert wants to hear that his or her evidence is the key piece of evidence in a criminal trial because you know the focus is going to be on that evidence.
But the reality is, in my experience, that video is the primary critical piece of evidence in most video-related cases once they realize how important it is. It gets that way in trial.
Last week, I had a homicide trial that was scheduled and we had a lot of video. The defense did everything that they could to make sure it wasn’t going to be used in court, but at the end of the day it was going to be used. We got a guilty plea and that was agreed to 30 years in prison, which is a pretty significant plea deal because it saved a lot of money for the courts and got justice for the family. So that is kind of a definition of how important video evidence is and how it can play a critical role.
But I have to tell you the most valuable cases in my professional experience are those cases where we’re able to show a person who is innocent. Somebody who has perhaps been charged with a serious crime, and the video is able to exculpate that person. And like Mike said, I had a case last year of a police officer charged with murder. The video very clearly showed that he had nothing to do with the death of the individual. There are a lot of cases out there like that, and those cases where you’re able to show somebody who’s actually innocent is where you get the real value of video evidence.
Great. Thank you gentlemen for sharing these stories that demonstrate why video evidence is critical.