The family of Ariane McCree, a man who was shot dead by police in a parking lot, handcuffed and in possession of a gun, is still searching for answers to unanswered questions.
In November 2019, McCree had raced out of a Walmart in Chester, South Carolina, when police placed him in handcuffs for allegedly stealing a KSh4,800 lock.
What happened next remains a mystery. First, the responding officers did not activate their body cameras… At least not until after McCree, a Black father, was shot dead, sprayed with 24 bullets.
“A lot of things do not add up,” his cousin, Tabatha Strother, told NBC News. “But we would have known a lot of this if the bodycam was on.”
Police body cameras are crucial
In the US, body cameras are an important tool in enhancing transparency in policing as well as providing crucial information in investigations. According to NBC News, of the more than 12,000 local police departments around the US, roughly half have body cameras, but that does not mean they will be used properly.
“The cameras aren’t there just to be there. They’re meant to record interactions to foster accountability and public trust. And departments are setting themselves up for failure if they don’t have a real policy,” said Danny Murphy, the deputy commissioner of compliance for the Baltimore Police Department.
According to experts, police need to implement three basic rules in order for the cameras to be effective: tell police officers specifically when to hit record, ensure they announce they are filming, and outline clear consequences for when the rules are broken. But many do not follow this guidelines.
A survey by NBC News found 45 percent gave specific instructions for when officers should start recording. Roughly 41 percent required officers to announce they’re recording. And only 34 percent clearly stated there are consequences for not recording.