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Watching the Watchmen: Are Police Officers' Body-Worn Cameras a Win for Accountability?

"Helmet Cam " (Photo by Richard Masoner)
"Helmet Cam " (Photo by Richard Masoner)


The presence of the officers' helmet cameras certainly didn't prevent the officers from taking Boyd's life, even though the officers were reportedly carrying nonlethal Tasers in addition to their guns.

"I'm not overly optimistic [body-worn cameras] will lead to any change because we hear about video recordings, and we see the most egregious forms of police misconduct already, and in so many cases police officers are not held accountable." —Brigitt Keller, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild's National Police Accountability Project.



By Candice Bernd
We wouldn't know that James Boyd was turning away from three Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers when they decided to fatally shoot him March 16 in the Sandia foothills just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, if it wasn't for the body-worn cameras embedded in the officers' helmets that captured the gruesome events.

But the presence of the officers' helmet cameras certainly didn't prevent the officers from taking Boyd's life, even though the officers were reportedly carrying nonlethal Tasers in addition to their guns.

Boyd, who was homeless and had a history of struggling with mental health issues, was confronted by the APD officers for camping in an unauthorized area near Albuquerque city limits. After the officers' woke him, a three-hour stand-off followed until Boyd offered to go with the officers. But as Boyd gathered his belongings, a flash grenade was fired, and he dropped his items and, reportedly, revealed a pair of knives. He then turned away as two of the officers shot six live rounds, using assault rifles, into his back. The FBI is now investigating the shooting.

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