Long Beach Police Body Cameras Again Failed to Capture Police Shooting

Long Beach police say they found this gun in the car that an officer fired into on March 13, 2018, but they say their body cameras malfunctioned and didn’t take video of the shooting. (Photos courtesy Long Beach police)

This week, for the second time in less than eight months, a Long Beach Police Department body camera failed to record usable video of an officer shooting someone, according to authorities.

Since the department began testing body cameras in November 2016, they’ve twice had an opportunity to capture footage of a police shooting, but the devices had some kind of problem each time, department officials confirmed Thursday.

On Tuesday night, at least one officer fired into a car police had pulled over, wounding 21-year-old Anthony Mariscal. One of the two officers at the scene was wearing a body camera, but when investigators looked at the footage, “the department learned that while the audio is very clear, the quality of the video is very poor,” Long Beach police spokeswoman Karen Owens said.

The footage is so poor that it’s essentially useless, according to people familiar with it. Police said they don’t know yet what caused the problem, whether it’s a technical issue, human error or something else.

“The department’s (body-worn camera) project team is in the process of reviewing all aspects of the video recording and transmission process to determine a possible cause for the low-quality image,” Owens said.

Back in July, officers shot and wounded a man who they said was reaching for his waistband as he tried to get away from them. The officers in that shooting weren’t wearing their body cameras because they’d been having technical issues, according to police officials, who would not describe those technical issues in any detail.

In July, the Press-Telegram reported that the department was having chronic problems with the body cameras it was testing, including issues with the devices’ battery life.

But in January, police reported to the City Council’s public-safety committee that 90 percent of those technical hurdles had been resolved. Department Bureau Chief Jason Campbell told committee members that police now planned to expand the pilot program from 40 officers with cameras to the entire West Patrol Division, which covers about 13 square miles of Long Beach.

Since July, the Press-Telegram has been seeking records of communications between Long Beach police and the vendor providing the body cameras. The department has not provided any of those communications so far. Sgt. Byron Blair, who oversees the department’s responses to public records requests, previously said the process of collecting the communications is time consuming.

Police said this week’s police shooting started with a traffic stop around 9:40 p.m. near the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. After pulling over the car, an officer saw what he believed was a person inside pointing a gun at him, the department said in a statement. Investigators later found a handgun inside the car, police said.

Mariscal’s mother, Alicia Reyes, questioned the police account. She said a pair of female family friends had just picked up Mariscal and his brother, who jumped in the back seat on their way to a candlelight vigil for a man who’d committed suicide.

“The way the car is, the seats in the back, they’re very low. The windows she had were tinted dark,” Reyes said. “You would have to have magical eyes to be able to see what was in the back seat of that car.”

Reyes did not see the shooting but she said Mariscal’s brother described it to her during phone calls from Long Beach Jail. An arrest log shows he was taken into custody after the shooting on suspicion of violating the terms of his release from jail.

“He calls and he just cries uncontrollably,” Reyes said.

Police said Mariscal was taken to a hospital where he’s in stable condition.

“I’m very happy that he’s stable. I’m happy about that,” Reyes said. “What I’m not happy about is the way they went about this.”

Police, she said, are very familiar with her sons. Both have spent time in jail, and since their release, police have come to her house searching for them every few weeks, according to Reyes.

Police said Mariscal had an active warrant for his arrest for violating his terms of release from jail. Reyes said he failed to check in with his probation officer.

Court records show Mariscal has criminal convictions for drug possession, resisting arrest and two counts of felony gun possession since 2015. Most recently, he pleaded no contest in March 2017 to illegal possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 16 months in jail, according to court files.

According to Reyes, her sons carried guns because gang members around their home made them feel unsafe.

Reyes said a neighbor told her the officers involved in Tuesday’s shooting had been waiting outside her home for a while before Mariscal and his brother left for the vigil.

Police said the officers were in the neighborhood that night because the department had deployed extra patrolmen throughout the area after a string of shootings along the Pacific Coast Highway corridor left one man dead and another wounded on Monday.

Source: https://www.presstelegram.com/2018/03/15/long-beach-police-body-cameras-again-failed-to-capture-police-shooting/

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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