Oakland police camera gaffe: 25 percent of videos deleted

A quarter of all video clips captured by Oakland police body-worn cameras during stops and investigations were accidentally deleted nearly two years ago when city employees installed a software upgrade, the former head of the camera unit said Tuesday. Alameda County prosecutors said she was shot in the head after the defendants, believing she was following and recording them, became angry and tried to take her phone. Though body-worn camera footage is a minor issue in the case, Burke’s testimony provided a glimpse into Oakland’s handling of a nascent technology that has been adopted around the country as a tool of police accountability. The videos were deleted in October 2014 when city information technology workers tried upgrading the Police Department’s computer system that stores dozens of terabytes of the body-worn camera footage. Instead of hitting “preserve everything,” the IT employees mistakenly checked a box marked “preserve,” Deputy District Attorney Butch Ford, who is prosecuting the murder case, explained Tuesday outside court. The videos can be used in criminal and civil court cases and can implicate or exonerate an officer accused of wrongdoing. Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris, whose work focuses on police misconduct, said the missing footage could pose a problem in some cases. Burke was asked to explain the deletions in court because Annie Beles, the attorney for defendant Mario Floyd, has said that footage taken from officers who arrived at the scene of Salamon’s killing would contradict witness statements. Beles said the footage would likely show that no trash bins were knocked over in the street, which is notable because Ford, the prosecutor, has argued that Floyd threw a trash bin at Salamon as he demanded her phone minutes before co-defendant Stephon Lee allegedly fired three shots, killing her. Darryl Stallworth, Lee’s defense attorney, argued that no physical evidence was found tying Lee to the shooting.

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