New Orleans Police Officer Turns Off Body Camera Minutes Before Shooting Suspect In Forehead

uptown-armand-bennett-2In New Orleans, Armand Bennet, 26, was shot in the forehead during a traffic stop by New Orleans police officer Lisa Lewis. However, the police department did not reveal until much later that Lewis turned off her body camera just before shooting Bennett. Bennett survived and has now been charged under prior warrants for his arrest. It also reviewed that Lewis had had a prior run in with Bennet who escaped about a week earlier.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas called the late disclosures on the shooting simply a “snafu.”

Lewis’ lawyer says that she turned off her camera because she was heading back to the station at the end of her shift and that the shot was fired during a scuffle after the stop. Bennett’s attorney says that there was no scuffle and that Lewis fired a second shot as Bennett ran away.

The two had been in a scuffle a week before and Bennett had gotten away. The NOPD then issued four warrant for Bennet and those warrants were the basis for the stop.

NOPD_badgePutting aside the merits of the officers claims, I am still unclear why these body cameras can even be turned off by officers. The point of a body camera should be that it runs from check in to check out. It should not be under the control of the officer to guarantee a record that cannot be challenged by either side. That would avoid the troubling appearance of an officer with a prior run in with a suspect who turns off her camera minutes before shooting the suspect in the head.

Kudos: Michael Blott

Source: Fox8

60 thoughts on “New Orleans Police Officer Turns Off Body Camera Minutes Before Shooting Suspect In Forehead

  1. “New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas called the late disclosures on the shooting simply a “snafu.”

    Does that mean if I’m a witness and don’t revel relevant information in court, I can chalk it up to a snafu? Somehow I doubt it.

    If a body camera is available but is turned off or the video deleted, then every word the officer says should be suspect.

  2. Must be a new police-game, shooting young black men in the head. I wonder what kind of cash and prizes are on the table! Unfortunately for Officer Lewis, this young man survived. No prize for leaving a potential witness alive in this game….

    This leaves me a little nauseous.

  3. This all begs the question of why Lewis was shooting to kill (aiming at the head), instead of shooting to stop. What were the warrants out on Bennet for?

  4. Another example of double standards for police.

    American policing is now remarkably similar to Russian policing.

  5. If a police officer is interviewing a rape victim, should the camera (or at least the video capability) be turned off?

  6. Im surprised New Orleans wasn;t a Fergusono before Ferguson. And why, when not faced with a gun or deadly weapon, do they still shoot to kill rather then to bring them down?

  7. If there was a presumption of guilt when an officer turned off or erased body cam footage this would cease to be a problem.

    However I agree these need to be always on uneraseable devices with severe penalties for removing or obscuring them while on duty (see: presumption of guilt above), and a requirement to immediately return for a new unit if malfunctioning / battery dead.

    I will also assume there was conveniently no dash-cam footage?

  8. Reblogged this on veritasusa and commented:
    These need to be always on uneraseable devices, with a presumption of officers guilt when removed or obscured during any questionable activity – or they are useless.

  9. As much as I detest our current militarized, trigger happy police forces, I have to disagree that the officers should not be able to turn off the cameras. I don’t see any need to record their private conversation when riding around in a patrol car or at lunch. Should they record their bathroom breaks as well? Who on this board would be willing to be recorded, up close, during their entire day at work? I can also see many scenarios where witnesses will not talk if being recorded.

    On the other hand, missing video of an arrest, shooting or other confrontation should be a serious offense that subjects the officer to suspension or firing. How hard is it to train officers to turn on the camera before exiting the police car?

  10. Simms brings up a good point. Body cams on all the time during shift work? Are these union cops?

    Compare this to something called Telemetrics used by UPS to track union package drivers. They don’t like it, but the only option is to leave and get another job.

    Telemetrics is also deployed in police cars. So cops can’t make to many coffee and doughnut stops.

  11. Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

    Sooo, is Bennet dead? Was he unarmed? I agree the turned off camera is fishy, but there seems to be a lot missing from this story.
    —————————————
    Oxa

    This all begs the question of why Lewis was shooting to kill (aiming at the head), instead of shooting to stop. What were the warrants out on Bennet for?
    ========================================

    “Bennett has been in the hospital for the past two days, but his injuries are not life-threatening, police said. Upon his release he will booked with five outstanding warrants, including illegal possession of a weapon, resisting an officer charges in Gretna and Orleans, possession of marijuana and criminal damage to property. There may be additional charges stemming from Monday’s incident.” (WVUE).

  12. Sounds like pure luck, not sure hers, his, or both, that he wasn’t more severely injured or died. One normally does not shoot at the head unless you are intending to kill the person. (Or else the officer is an unbelievably terrible shot)

  13. “Eventually the camera will have failed, the video accidentally got erased or the hard drive crashed. This seems to be the pattern in this growing, lawless government.” John Oliver

    So the feed is automatically uploaded and it goes to a cloud — to multiple locations. And if there’s any problem with the feed, dispatch is automatically notified and the backup camera in the vehicle is donned. We have some pretty sophisticated means/tools…

    Will it be perfect? Nope. But will it help decrease these types of incidents? In all likelihood, yes.

  14. WHAT COMBAT VETERANS SEE IN FERGUSON, MISSOURI
    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/08/veterans-ferguson-matthew-farwell

    “To my eyes the police, whose business is peace, have no business strutting through the streets carrying M-4 carbines with reflexive-fire sights on top, surefire tactical flashlights on barrel-mounted rail systems slung from three-point harnesses, or white zip-tie flex cuffs over black-body armor, their eyes and faces obscured by gas masks and their heads covered with Kevlar helmets[…]

    As Fussell writes, “Playing soldiers used to be appropriate only among small boys.”

    Many actual solders wish it had stayed that way.

  15. When police behave as if there is something to hide…
    … It usually is because they’re trying to hide something.

    All parents know this behavior…

  16. What race is Lisa Lewis? I ask this because I am assuming (yes, I know that’s not good) she is black. If she was white, all of the articles I looked up on this would not have left out that fact. So… I’m just curious. Please, someone tell me she was white.

  17. There are reasons why body cameras are not set to record mode all the time. If they were set the following problems, among others will come up.

    1) There are settings where the recording of video or audio would be unlawful. Two party consent states only allow recording by police under narrowly defined situations. There are also privileged communications that can be inadvertently recorded.

    2) The notion of a confidential informant will come to a halt if the informant knows that everything they say will be recorded and their identity revealed.

    3) There will be a bit more reluctance for the public to have casual contact with the police as they might fear such contact that everything is recorded and it somehow might be used against them.

    4) Inadvertent recordings can cause the public to be wary that police coming into a situation such as a restaurant can make people uncomfortable in just having the police around. Plus, this violates two party consent laws.

    5) When interviewing a suspect, in custody, the suspect has a right to not be recorded. If this right is not granted exclusionary rules can apply and the interview can be thrown out. (at least in my state)

    The one issue that people seem to be forgetting the most is that there is much worry and outcry of the public and many forms of discussion on this blog about how America is being turned into a police state by constant recording by government and the police but here on this topic we want the police to continually record everything that happens. It’s a bit inconsistent.

    It is for those reasons and others that body cameras do not run full shift.

    As far as sanctioning an officer for not recording each and every situation. That is not realistic because sometimes things can happen so fast anyone does not necessarily do everything by the book. That happens with any person including law enforcement officers. Not to be dismissive as this case could be different. I have know of examples where officers have been sanctioned and in one case terminated by testifying to certain events then selectively recording or not recording certain parts of the incident.

  18. Reposted from Ferguson thread:

    What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras
    Use of force by police officers declined 60% in first year since introduction of cameras in Rialto, Calif.
    http://online.wsj.com/articles/what-happens-when-police-officers-wear-body-cameras-1408320244

    So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens. In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%.

    It isn’t known how many police departments are making regular use of cameras, though it is being considered as a way of perhaps altering the course of events in places such as Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.
    (continued)

  19. The recordings could be turned directly over to an independent archive and only viewed with a judicial warrant.

    Anyone, including police chiefs or internal affairs, would have to fill out an affidavit (risk of perjury) then obtain a judicial warrant from a magistrate judge.

    Only if there were a shooting, abuse complaint or other investigation (where a judicial warrant was obtained) would the video ever be viewed.

    Wouldn’t address all of the great issues Darren Smith pointed out but would solve most of them. Last week, the TV cop show “Rookie Blue” recently illustrated some other problems with easy access to the tapes.

  20. There was a guy who used to specialize is escaping for the state prison and finally, like Cool Hand Luke, they shot his a** down. He really did not cause any trouble when he escaped but after the fourth escape they decided to teach him a lesson. Maybe the same sort of lesson was being taught here.

  21. Max-1 – you have to assume that the shooting in Ferguson is a bad shooting. Ferguson is the home to a major serial killer from awhile back. Tortured, raped and killed about 40 women. Didn’t catch him until he made the mistake of writing a letter to the newspaper, which gave away a little too much information about himself.

  22. Is it possible to set these cameras up to auto record when responding to a call. Not a perfect solution but a step in the right direction.

  23. The problem with cameras being on all the time is that they record the cops doing stuff they do not want their supervisors knowing about. Think about yourself. Would you want you entire work day recorded, in this case lunch and breaks would be included? And if the officer cannot turn it off, should the supervisor have an off switch for the camera?

  24. No kidding. All cops should wear cameras with audio and with live feeds going into a tamper proof server. Turning it off or obscuring it in any way should be a felony resulting in jail and or fines and permanent loss of job, with no exceptions.

  25. paul since law enFORCEment are public servants they should have no time to be doing anything except the job our tax dollars pay for. your logic is exactly the issue with cops now. they are out doing things they have no business doing and no one is in a position to discipline them. when you are at work you are on the bosses time. off work is a different situation but considering how many cases involved off duty cops that may not be a viable option either

  26. shakingmyhead – according to Federal Law LEOs, along with everyone else, get at least 2 15 minute breaks in an eight hour day and a lunch break of at least 1/2 when they are supposed to be off the clock. Since they are supposed to be off the clock, how is it the business of their supervisor’s what they talk about at lunch? Every talk s**t about your boss during lunch or a break? These cops with cameras on all the time would not be able to.

  27. […] Many articles have been written, in the wake of the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown, calling for the the use of more cameras in policing situations. Well that’s all fine and dandy unless the police are free to not use, or misuse, the cameras. It is like all the other laws put into effect, if there is no accountability and no consequences for the police circumventing recording then cameras will be worthless. READ MORE… […]

  28. It didn’t have to be this way. Locked away, the Ferguson police department is hoarding a stock of “body-worn cameras” (BWCs) that could have answered these questions before they ever arose. Only problem? The Ferguson P.D. “have yet to deploy them to officers,” according to a recent article by Chris Mims of the Wall Street Journal. So rather than having an honest reckoning with the events of that tragic afternoon, we’re left to simply wonder, and to wish.

    It also goes on to discus civil rights issues with the BWCs on all the time as well.

    http://www.salon.com/2014/08/22/make_cops_wear_cameras_a_simple_way_to_hold_the_police_accountable/

  29. The reason to allow officers to turn off the camera is so that they can protect themselves when they decide to do something illegal. People will complain, yeah, like in this case. But nothing will come of it.

  30. Regardless of intent or possible innocence Lisa Lewis should be let go for such a significant procedural failure.

    Also to call this a “Snafu” is both an indictment of the NOPD and the city’s government at large. Its gross that an oversight failure like this can be attributed to business as usual, but the failure to recognize this as a policy failure is gross and stupid.

    Don’t take your camera off until you are off duty. People literally don’t trust the police anymore.

  31. cops been killing black me for years as long as they got that badge they will get away with murder, but trust if a black man kills a cop he gets the death penalty or life. its a dirty business that will keep going on until a cop kills a rich white man then it will be a problem until then we just keep watching the news another brother lost.

  32. Everyone needs to watch Chris Rock’s ‘How not to do get your ass kicked by the police’

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QR465HoCWFQ#

    As officers who encounter emboldened thugs are made into villains, the thugs become more disrespectful and emboldened. This case was not like Fergerson; a difficult thug, who had warrants for incidents involving firearms, drugs and resistance to LEOs was again being a threat to an officer. We need to carefully consider how we portray the authority of our LEOs, so that they remain respected. Dealing with a ‘Bennet’, is NOT the same thing as dealing with an unarmed kid eating skittles or stealing a few cigarettes!

  33. She should be fired and not to be rehired because her story is all a lie. She knew at the moment when she turned off her bodycamera, she had intentions of shooting him. To shoot someone in the forehead, she had to be very close, she’s a liar and the truth isn’t in her.
    By the way, the use of the word “Thug” is just another way of calling blacks the “N- word” so STOP!

  34. Cindyb62 – a couple of things 1) Wild Bill Hickcock hit someone in the heart at 75 yards, so I wouldn’t jump on your shooting close theory 2) thug comes from the word thugee and has nothing to do with blacks. Thugs come in all races. So turn off your black privilege.:)

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