The debate over what exactly happened this summer between Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson on a Missouri street is going to rage on indefinitely with dueling accounts of the incident used to fuel whatever narrative fits many people’s agendas.
From former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to Al Sharpton, the actors are playing their given roles in the political menagerie – with questions beyond the actual case concerning poverty and race deemed either as irrelevant or crucial to our national dialogue.
But beyond all the uncertainty surrounding the facts and the likely inability of America to confront larger questions is a big fact: Had there been video evidence of the confrontation between the two men, there would be a lot less confusion about what actually happened.
As painful as it is to watch, it’s a blessing that someone recorded the encounter on Staten Island this July between Eric Garner and Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner in a fatal chokehold after confronting him about illegally selling cigarettes. A grand jury is deciding whether the police officer should be charged in the case – but there can be no false claims heard about how their dispute started or ended.
If someone with a cell phone is able to tape what happened with Garner, the NYPD should be able to follow suit. It’s clear that the department should consider quickly moving ahead of its pilot program of placing 60 body cameras on officers in five high-crime precincts. If the technology is there, the city should move forward. It would potentially keep the city from spending millions of dollars in costly litigation – and it could save lives. The alternative could be the burning streets to our west on a depressing Thanksgiving eve.