Reel Urban News Revisits its Civil Rights Live Legal Panel in the Wake of the recent Police shootings of African American men and Police Shootings by urban snipers.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
The news stories seem all too familiar. In the span of 72 hours in early July 2016, cell phone video captured the senseless deaths of the two young African American men at the hands of police. Within hours, five Dallas police were killed as demonstrators protested the deaths of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, La. and Philandro Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn. Without the video, the full story of what happened to these young men may not have ever come out.
Their deaths were reminiscent of the violent end of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was arrested and died in a van while being transported by members of the Baltimore police department on April 12, 2015.
After that tragedy, Reel Urban News convened the Civil Rights Live Legal Panel. Our groundbreaking discussion focused on the “Baltimore 6, Cops Cameras and Race in America.” Several defense and civil rights attorneys joined two former prosecutors to discuss the impact of technology and policing the police.
The excerpts below are from three of the participants in the Civil Rights Live Legal Panel.
Tony Sain, a partner with Manning & Kass, is a former prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Sain currently defends government agencies and police officers in civil rights actions or employment cases. Sain is a proponent of equipping police with cameras.
“Generally speaking, I find that the technology helps officers. It helps document that every day they’re putting their lives on the line to protect ordinary citizens and keep our streets safe. Nine times out of ten they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, helping. And on the one out of ten occasions when there’s some issue that needs to be addressed, (technology) helps us as well. It helps us solve the problem. So generally speaking, I like having the recordings because they help us defend the officers and show they were doing what they’re supposed to be doing, helping our citizens.”
Jamon Hicks of Douglas/Hicks Law specializes in civil litigation and criminal defense, representing plaintiffs in state and federal courts. His civil litigation experience involves wrongful death, serious personal injury, and police misconduct cases. Hicks has also litigated numerous felony and misdemeanor criminal cases such as attempted murder, assaults on peace officers, terrorist threats and drug and gun possession.
“Technology is critical. Now everybody essentially is walking with a video camera. Just take your phone and in a second you’re able to capture the entire interaction between police officers and the community. This is something that we’ve been dealing with for years; this is nothing new to us. We get calls every day about these kinds of cases, the difference now is that you have videotape evidence of it and it’s not just family of the decedent’s word against the officer or witnesses’ accounts against the officers.
“You actually have an objective witness in the video camera showing what happened. I think that’s what brought this issue more to light. I’m happy that people are not too afraid to take out their cameras because people could run the risk of being charged themselves or being harmed themselves.”
Carl E. Douglas specializes in police misconduct cases. He is best known for being one of the defense attorneys in the O.J. Simpson murder case. Douglas is the former managing attorney at the Law Office of Johnnie Cochran Jr.
“We still have a long way to go. I am really struck by friends and colleagues, knowing that I have been toiling in the trenches for 35 years, asking what I think about the fact that all of these allegations of abuse have happened all of a sudden. I tell them, ‘Welcome to my world.’ It’s not that it’s happened all of a sudden, it is now because of the advent of technology that America is beginning to get a glimpse of what really happens on the street of urban cities throughout this country.”
For our complete coverage of the Civil Rights Live Legal Panel: