According to KilledByPolice.net, Freddie Gray was the 348th person killed by police in the U.S. since the start of 2015, an average of more than three people per day. Between the ubiquity of camera phones and the nation’s propensity to whip them out and record anything of note, a lot more of those deaths are being caught on tape.
It’s not just shootings, either. An entire movement has sprung up around citizens recording the police during stops. Until the slow spread of body cameras for officers is complete, this seems like the best way to make sure there’s an unbiased video account of confrontations involving the law. Even though it’s completely legal to record the police, you may be surprised to know that some cops may not respect your right to film them. Tons of people have had their phones confiscated or smashed, or their footage deleted.
In what may become the next flashpoint example of police brutality, New Jersey cops did nothing while their K9 dog mauled 32-year-old Phillip White, who died in police custody shortly after. The incident was caught on film, along with one of the officers telling the witness, “I need your information, and I’m going to need to take your phone.”
Who knows what would’ve happened to this footage if the bystander complied with the cop’s request? Because incidents like this are common, the ACLU of California has created an app called Mobile Justice CA that automatically uploads the footage you take to a local ACLU affiliate. Not only does that make sure the video you take doesn’t get deleted or destroyed, it also notifies others using the app nearby that a police stoppage is underway.
Other slick bells and whistles, like the ability to keep filming while the phone’s lock screen is activated, shows that the ACLU put some time into this. It’s available for iPhone and Android, and it’s free. Who knows? It could end up saving you or someone you film from ending up in jail on trumped charges.