Caught on Tape, Caught in a Lie: 5 Times Video Proved Police Were Lying

From Sandra Bland to Sam DuBose, the officers had one story, but the tape told another.

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Former University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing enters court to be arraigned on murder charges July 30, 2014, in Cincinnati.

Mark Lyons/Getty Images

For police officers, does caught on tape mean caught in a lie?

You know the stories. The officer felt threatened, the suspect charged and the officer, claiming fear for his or her life, had to shoot. But when there’s video, these stories are not as cut-and-dried. In fact, in some cases, officers are caught flat out lying about what really transpired.

Below are five videos that proved police officers were lying in high-profile police-brutality cases:

1. Tamir Rice

In the police report, officers claimed that Tamir was sitting underneath a pavilion with a few other people, that the child saw the police car and that he picked up a toy gun off the table and put it in his waistband. The report also says that police got out of the car and told Tamir three times to put his hands up, that the youth reached into his waistband and he was then shot by the police.

All of the above were lies.

The 12-year-old was shot less than three seconds after the police vehicle pulled up. He was standing up and he was by himself. Still, the grand jury decided not to indict in Cleveland Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, who killed him.

2. Sandra Bland

In the video, Texas state Trooper Brian Encinia is shown pointing a Taser at Sandra Bland and yelling, “I will light you up!” after pulling her over for failure to signal a lane change. Encinia claimed that Bland had assaulted him by swinging her elbows at him and kicking him in the shin. In the video, she does not physically assault him. In fact, she tells him that she has epilepsy and that he knocked her head into the ground. Encinia was indicted by a grand jury for perjury based on the lies he told in his police report.

3. Walter Scott

North Charleston, S.C., Police Officer Michael Thomas Slager claimed that Walter Scott had attempted to gain control of Slager’s Taser and that Scott was shot during the struggle. The North Charleston Police Department released a statement supporting Slager’s story. The department was unaware that there was video evidence that refuted this claim. Scott was unarmed and fleeing on foot and was shot in the back by Slager from a distance of at least 15 feet. Recently, North Charleston filed a murder charge against Slager.

4. Laquan McDonald

Police claimed that Laquan McDonald was swinging a knife “in an aggressive, exaggerated manner” the night he was shot and killed by Officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. In a written report, Van Dyke claims he ordered McDonald to “drop the knife!” multiple times, then says that Laquan “continued to advance toward him.” Van Dyke also claimed that the 17-year-old pointed the knife at him and was going to kill him. Fearing for his life, Van Dyke said he opened fire to “stop the attack.”

But video released 13 months later begs the question, “What attack?”

In reality, Van Dyke fired six seconds after arriving on the scene where Laquan was walking away from officers with a knife in his hand. It took Van Dyke 15 seconds to fire 16 shots. Laquan was posthumously accused of aggravated assault on four officers. Police originally claimed that dash-cam videos were recovered and found to be consistent with the accounts of all the police witnesses. The city fought against the release of the dash-cam videos for more than a year before they were finally released to the public. The videos led to widespread protests and a call for the resignations and arrests of all who were complicit in the cover-up, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

5. Sam DuBose

Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing claimed that he and Sam DuBose tussled as DuBose sat in his car during a traffic stop. He claimed that things escalated when he asked DuBose to get out of the car and that he was “dragged” by DuBose as the man attempted to flee. Video showed all that to be a lie. Tensing fired his gun almost immediately, shooting and killing DuBose when Tensing reached into the car in an attempt to get DuBose out of the vehicle. Tensing was later charged with the murder of DuBose and pleaded “not guilty.”

Ericka Blount Danois is an award-winning journalist, writer, editor and professor. You can see more of her work at her website. Follow her on Twitter.

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