Footage has surfaced of a police officer in St. Louis telling fellow officers to turn off a dashboard camera during an arrest.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18-year-old Cortez Bufford was arrested by the St. Louis Police Department in April 2014. Officers responding to a call about shots fired pulled him over for making an illegal U-turn. During the stop, officers claimed they smelled marijuana on both Bufford and his passenger. From there, the situation got messy:
[Officer] Burkemper is heard saying, I’m telling you right now and Let’s go to Bufford. The passenger repeatedly urges Bufford to get out.
Bufford became agitated, Burkemper wrote, refusing to give his name and reaching for a pants pocket before the officer warned him to keep his hands in view. Bufford refused orders to get out. Burkemper called for backup when Bufford became increasingly hostile.
The report says Binz told Burkemper he had found two bullets in the passenger’s pocket. Burkemper then ordered Bufford out again, saying he was under arrest. Bufford unlocked his door, but refused to exit.
The video shows Burkemper reaching in and opening the door as backup arrives, at 10:14.11 p.m. The report says that after Burkemper maneuvered Bufford to the ground, the suspect struggled repeatedly and reached for his pocket.
One of the officers spotted a gun, and Bufford was reportedly kicked and Tasered as officers attempted to subdue him. A Kel-Tec 9mm semi-automatic pistol was recovered, and Bufford was ultimately handcuffed. But another officer arriving at the scene, can be heard advising the officers already present about the active dashboard camera:
At 10:16.06 p.m., Officer Kelli Swinton approaches Burkemper's patrol car. There is the sound of an opening car door, and she loudly declares: Hold up. Hold up, y'all. Hold up. Hold up, everybody, hold up. We're red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait.
The audio cuts out, and the video ends eight seconds later.
The video, as well as others showing different views from other cameras, was released on Friday following an open records request:
One shows that after Burkemper's camera stopped, officers continued to huddle around Bufford. That camera shuts off, too, leaving a gap of more than two minutes before Bufford is seen on it again, stumbling and falling once as he's taken to a police vehicle. Other videos show unrelated scenes and both Bufford and his passenger sitting inside vehicles.
Although Bufford was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest, the charges were dropped last August. As St. Louis city attorney spokeswoman Susan Ryan explained to the Post-Dispatch, that fatal move "diminished the evidentiary merits of the case."
Bufford's lawyers are now using the footage in an excessive force case filed last month against the police department.
[via St. Louis Post-Dispatch]