William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Police officer perjury - Why some get away with lies

While our instincts and upbringing tell us to trust the police, it is an unfortunate fact that there are some police officers who not only fail to uphold the law, but actually break it by committing perjury in court.

In fact, BuzzFeed News looked at 62 incidents that were caught on video. In each of these cases, the video footage blatantly contradicts the officer's written report or courtroom testimony. Here are just a few of these incidents:

  • A South Carolina cop claimed that the suspect grabbed his Taser and aimed it at him, but the video shows the officer shooting the man in the back from 17 feet away, then intentionally dropping the Taser beside the body.
  • After shooting and killing a man, two Los Angeles officers claimed that the suspect was reaching for his waistband as if to grab a concealed weapon. However, the video shows that the suspect's arms were raised in surrender.
  • A Georgia cop claimed that a man shot her, but the video shows her accidentally shooting herself with her gun.

So Why Do They Do It?

Police work is very stressful. Unfortunately, some police officers jump to conclusions about the people they meet, convincing themselves either that a person committed a crime even though there is scant evidence, or telling themselves that even though the person may not have committed a crime this time, he or she is inherently "bad".

Some law enforcement officers try to cover up or retroactively justify their own wrongdoing. For instance, if a mistake is made, some may add to a report to justify their actions.

While these are only a few of the possibilities explaining why police officers may choose to lie, ultimately it comes down to a belief that they can get away it. Some believe that juries and judges will believe anything they say, to the point of making false statements about incidents they knew were caught on video or audiotape.

Their uniforms carry a lot of weight in the courtroom. Juries and judges naturally trust the testimony of police officers, which in most cases, is a safe stance.

What Can You Do In Response?

Fighting criminal charges is extremely difficult when the police are willing to lie. It's important to retain a good lawyer when dealing with charges that are based on police testimony. Skilled criminal defense attorneys know how to cross examine police officers to obtain the truth. They also know how to find other holes in the prosecution's case.

If you have been charged with a crime - or even if you simply suspect you may be under investigation - don't hesitate to consult a defense lawyer in your area.

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