SAN LEANDRO (CBS SF) –A powerful example of how police body camera video can be a game changer: A new video shows San Leandro police restraining a man outside a 7-Eleven in Oakland, showing how the encounter escalates, from start to finish.
The video helped vindicate that driver in his confrontation with police.
KPIX 5 legal analyst and retired judge La Doris Cordell was outraged at what she saw recorded from a San Leandro police body camera.
“This video should be shown at every law enforcement academy. It is a classic example of how not to handle a stop,” Cordell said.
Douglas Babbit, of San Leandro, is the man who stars in the video taken by a body mounted camera on a San Leandro police officer’s chest.
In the video, Babbit is parked the van he lives in, in a 7-Eleven parking lot.
There is an open beer can outside the passenger door and the officers in the video seem to believe there is probable cause that it is Babbit’s can.
“I started getting a little upset because he kept trying to make that beer can mine,” Babbit said.
Officers eventually arrest him for driving under the influence. But not before they drag him out of the car, put him in a choke hold, and he goes unconscious for 30 seconds.
Babbit also suffered a concussion and possibly a pinched nerve.
He was also arrested for resisting arrest. Afterwards, it turns out he had guns in the back of the van, one loaded. He says he uses it for protection because he’s homeless.
“It makes me worried. It really does. It scares me now that they can do stuff and you have no say so in how they do this to you,” Babbit said.
The officers’ attorney told KPIX 5 News by phone that Babbit was very hostile and that the officers behaved in a very professional way.
The video leaves that open to interpretation.
The District Attorney’s Office has dropped all charges against Babbit.
Cordell said, “What legally went awry was that the officers, who in my view, decided they didn’t like Mr Babbit’s attitude. He cooperated, but wasn’t happy about it.”
The officers’ attorney, however, denies that and said nothing the officers did was wrong.
But Babbit is just glad they wore body cameras and recorded the incident.
“I could be in a whole different situation right now without that. I could probably still be in jail right now for stuff they make up and don’t take my word for it,” Babbit said.
It’s unclear why San Leandro police officers were working in Oakland.
Oakland police actually lead the pack when it comes to body cameras on Bay Area streets. The department has nearly 500 body-worn cameras assigned to its officers.
San Jose and San Francisco are expected to have hundreds of cameras by the summer and Marin County just approved a contract for sheriff’s department body cameras.