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How To Record A Police Officer Safety & Legally PT 1

May 23rd, 2018

The department of homeland security has a saying “if you see something say something.” Our philosophy is, “if you see something, film something.”

The following information is a culmination of law enforcement feedback, concerned citizens, and legal counsel experience. The purpose of this post is to encourage concerned citizens to consider the proper methods when video recording police officers safely and legally. Before we begin, we want to talk about the two main objectives, safety and legality. Your safety, your family’s safety, and anyone you are with on location is top priority.

What are the legal boundaries for video recording a police officer? In general, the concerned citizen would not be legally obligated to hand over their camera or cell phone. However, there are ways to assist the police department and the community so unnecessary tension is not created between the law enforcement on scene and the concerned citizens.

 

Can you legally record a police officer?

 

The specific details expressed in this post are based primarily on Michigan law.

In a public place where there is no expectation of privacy, a concerned citizen is allowed to record video or take pictures. A concerned citizen cannot video record in a manner in which they are considered interfering with the event or investigation. This includes video recording or entering too close within the officer’s tactical operating area. Again, safety is priority. Interference to an investigation diverts the police officers attention or reduces his or her focus. The grey area then becomes “does the police officer consider that you are interfering with the investigation at that time” in their opinion. At this point, you might want to adjust your approach, where you’re standing, and what you’re filming.

 

Working with a police officer and not against them

 

Be aware that an officer may have a tremendous amount on his or her mind and may still be in a heightened sense of emotion or coming down from a critical incident previous to the one you are currently video recording.

Even if you didn’t record, if you were a witness, write down your name and number or give a business card to the police officer and mention you saw what happened and to contact you if they feel you can assist with the investigation. If the police officer is unavailable or too busy at the time, you can supply this information to their shift supervisor. No matter what, the will be the one that wants that information.

You have a right to remain anonymous as a concerned citizen you can request that from the police department, or you may go through a third party, such as Primeau Forensics, and ask for assistance. Certain people are obligated to present the recordings, statements, or anything heard as possible evidence of a case. Some of these people are: nurses, social workers, security, paramedics, and first responders. Whether you record an event, or are an eye witness to one, you could be subpoenaed and ordered to go to court. IF you are a witness, you may be legally obligated to give a statement, and/or appear in court.

 

In order to protect the integrity of the parties involved as well as the investigation, it is crucial to remain unbiased.

 

If it is one person recording, record the whole event. Don’t be biased recording one party or the other. Pointing the camera directly at the officer introduces bias and makes it difficult to determine who is at fault. Record the entire interaction of both parties. Don’t be offended if the police officer asks or tells you to back up or to get away. It will almost always be for your safety and to eliminate the officers consideration that you could be an additional threat.

 

Effectiveness of the recoding as video evidence.

 

We also want to address the effectiveness of your video recording and how it pertains to the investigation down the road. The primary purpose for reviewing video evidence in the court is to determine how the events occurred naturally. Second, the evidence illustrates the overall picture as accurately as possible. In too many situations, a concerned citizen will record an interaction without knowing many of the facts of the incident, or who was involved. This distorts the public perspective and may cause harm to the investigation.

 

The guidelines provided in this video are based primarily on Michigan case law. For more information, visit the Michigan legislature website.

To learn more about our expert security consultant, Theo Chalogianis, please feel free to contact Chalogianis Consulting LLC at chalogianis@gmail.com.

 

How to Video Record a Police Officer PT 2

May 23rd, 2018

Here at Primeau Forensics, we come across many videos that were recorded using a smart phone. Statistics show that 77% of Americans use a smartphone. Couple that with the vast amount of apps on the market that make recording and sharing videos one of the easiest parts of a person’s day, it’s no surprise that an average of 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

“What does that have to do with video forensics?” you may ask. Because the ease of recording videos has become so prevalent in our society, more and more citizens are capturing both criminal activity and law enforcement interactions with their smartphones.

These videos become an integral part of the investigation. If they are poor quality, only so much can be done to forensically enhance them. Our goal is to give you the necessary solutions to common problems that we encounter to assist you in acquiring the best recording possible.

 

Problem #1: Unstable footage
Solution: Try to stay calm and focus on keeping the camera steady. Don’t zoom in too much on the subject to where your camera is unable to properly auto focus. Be sure to keep a safe distance. Should the video need additional zooming, it can be forensically enhanced.

Problem #2: Landscape vs Portrait
Solution: Always film in landscape mode. Filming in landscape offers a wider view of the situation. This provides investigators with valuable information, like point of entry, outside factors, and other surroundings. Filming in landscape mode also provides a clearer image for forensic experts.

 

Problem #3: The citizen who is filming does not “blend in” and in turn escalates the situation.

Solution: If you feel like you are too close to the situation, you probably are. Safety of you and everyone else is most important. So, when in doubt, back up. Also, don’t feel the need to use any equipment more than your smartphone. As technology advances, smartphone cameras are advancing with it. Most smartphones use a 1080p resolution, which is sufficient for forensic enhancement.

 

Problem #4: The video is edited or uploaded to social media before it is handed off to the proper authorities.
Solution: Don’t alter the video in anyway. Whether it is: shortening the video, using apps or software to enhance the video or the audio, or adding effects. All of these adjustments effect the Chain of Custody (he order in which a piece of criminal evidence should be handled by persons investigating a case, specif. the unbroken trail of accountability that ensures the physical security of samples, data, and records in a criminal investigation.) as well as the forensic experts ability to identify and/or authenticate the video. We have all seen viral videos on social media or news outlets of criminal activity or law enforcement interactions. While these are important to start what could be difficult conversations in our society, it is imperative that the investigation be complete before a video is made public. Posting the video online could give suspects important details that could hinder the investigation and put lives at risk. It is important to remember that what you film could affect people’s lives. Think how you would want someone to handle the footage if it was you or a loved one in the video.

 

Problem #5: The video is not unbiased and only focuses on one subject and not the entire situation.
Solution: While you may be emotionally invested in the situation, it is crucial that the video evidence be unbiased. In order for the investigation to be as accurate as possible, investigators need to see the event in its entirety. It is a good idea to begin filming as soon as you see a problem arising and continue filming until the interaction is finalized. Another good idea is to use multiple cameras when available. This provides multiple viewpoints as well as the ability to have multiple versions of the recording to have the best possible outcome.

 

If you are filming an interaction with law enforcement, be mindful and respectful of the officer’s tactical operating area. If you have concerns regarding an officer’s actions, take the appropriate measures to speak directly with their supervisor. If the officer asks you to back up, he/she is doing so for your safety. It is always best to work with the officer and not against them, and to keep in mind that the officer may be in a heightened state of emotion from a previous incident. As Barrack Obama, once said, “Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.”

 

 

 

 

The guidelines provided in this video are based primarily on Michigan case law. For more information, visit the Michigan legislature website.

To learn more about our expert security consultant, Theo Chalogianis, please feel free to contact Chalogianis Consulting LLC at chalogianis@gmail.com.

Smart Phone Video Enhancement

March 4th, 2016

Forensic video enhancement can be performed on smart phones. Smart phone video enhancement is the process of applying scientific applications to a video recording in order to better see the events as they occurred. Smart phones and used to record video events like an accident or a crime.

We forensically clarify or enhance these events so they can be seen better. In the following paragraphs, we hope to communicate some information that will guide you on forensic video enhancement.

We have included some before and after forensic enhancement examples for your review. We also include advise on what to do to best capture an event in for forensic enhancement.

Since most smart phone video evidence is recorded freehand or without a tripod, you can’t guarantee the video usability. When people are nervous they shake while recording. In this case do not zoom in too much. A wide shot is less shaky than a zoomed in shot. Shaky video can result in less than quality video evidence.

Record on your smart phone video horizontally or landscape

When recording video on your smart phone, hold the phone horizontally and try not to zoom in. One of the most prevalent problems we have seen with video recordings are they shake and are not stable. The chaotic motion of a cell phone video can make it hard to see what’s happening.

Forensic video enhancement

The two clips below will help you understand how video forensic video enhancement works. The first clip is of an forensically enhanced iPhone video. The original video was a distant view from down the block as it was recorded. In the sample below, please note no stabilization or other forensic enhancement has been applied to this video.

In the enhanced sample below, we applied warp stabilization. Notice how the frame follows the motion of the video, creating a more stable picture for analysis.

As you can see, the subject in the video was not close enough to the smart phone camera. This makes it difficult to see the desired events as they occurred. Clip One is not very helpful in this condition for use in court. The subjects are very far away, making it difficult to see the events as they occurred and were recorded.

The science of forensic video enhancement

The forensic video enhancement process is not as simple as zooming in on the video recording. This will lower your overall video quality. Fixing it or enhancing your video isn’t nearly as simple as pushing the “enhance” button on your computer.

The reason that the quality of video is reduced when you zoom in has to do with something referred to as “pixels.”

Simply put, pixels are the small boxes of color code that combine to make up a given image. Each image is composed of a series of pixels that display the image you see in front of you.

Expanding an image means also expanding the size of each pixel. Because each pixel is representative of one “frame” of a bigger picture, such as photos making up a collage, each individual square pixel will expand along with the image. The increase of pixel size can cause distortion to the image, therefore making it even harder to decipher the contents of an image.

This is where a video forensic expert is necessary. We have training in video enhancement and experience using the hardware and software tools capable of clarifying and enhancing the events that occurred when you recorded your video.

As you saw in the second video sample above, the image has been expanded so that we can see the events that occurred up close. The quality of the video hasn’t been compromised. This is because of training and experience.

At the risk of being redundant, the biggest problem we see with smart phone video evidence is the orientation of the cell phone while recording. When we receive smart phone video evidence, many of the video recordings are vertically oriented. If your footage becomes evidence; not having a horizontal (or landscape) recorded video to work with really constricts your range of sight of a given event.

Utilizing the footage above as another example, notice that around the :25 second mark, the camera focuses on the Jeep pulling up, as another officer runs towards the scene. This takes our focus away from the scene, and we miss a substantial amount of the incident.

Had this evidence been shot horizontally, we may have been able to see what happened when that officer arrived to the scene, along with seeing the white Jeep parking in the background.

With the expansion of smart phone video technology, your smart phone can be of assistance recording crime and criminal activity. It is important to understand smart phone video enhancement from the forensic expert’s perspective. The highest quality video recording will reveal more in court. However, despite the quality, it is crucial to employ a video forensic expert to make the most out of your smart phone video.

Forensic Video Enhancement

December 17th, 2015

forensic Video enhancementForensic video enhancement (FVE) is the scientific approach to clarifying a video recording in order to better see the events as they occurred.

FVE can help litigators understand events that have been recorded on video but are difficult to see because of movement or shaky cameras, the subjects distance from the camera or video is too dark.

During the Boston bombings for example, CCTV cameras outside retail stores helped the FBI capture the terrorists who were responsible.

Some of the reasons video needs forensic enhancement is because too often cameras are not properly maintained. This is a huge problem that is not noticed until after the crime has been committed. Or, worse yet, the cameras are not installed or positioned properly.

In the following blog post we will provide you with a few facts on forensic video enhancement.

Original Video

– Always begin with the original video recording. Maintain a chain of custody for your video recording. If you have to export an AVI file to provide to police, keep a backup on thumb drive for insurance. If you have is a copy on DVD and not the original, then load the DVD copy of the video directly into your computer for forensic video enhancement.

Computer Software

– Use professional forensic software program to enhance like Adobe Premiere Pro and Clear ID. Primeau Forensics uses these as well as Adobe Photo Shop to enhance images exported from the video for forensic video enhancement. Remember, you can also export frames as still images to identify activity and other video components.

Color Correction

– Perform a color correction process first before performing any other forensic enhancement process. This is especially important if your video recording is dark and or was recorded at night. Be careful not to add too much brightness.

Enlargement

– If you need to enlarge a portion of the recorded video viewing area, apply after you review the footage on a large video monitor. At Primeau Forensics we use minimum 27” professional video monitors. Remember, the larger the playback monitor, the better you can see events in the video and the less you need to enlarge your video as an enhancement step. This is even more important in the courtroom.

Equipment

– It is good to know, if you can, the type of equipment that made the video you are enhancing. Often times a poor CCTV video export may be to blame for the poor video quality. If the recording is stored on the system, we can make sure we have the best export to work with for forensic video enhancement.

Forensic video enhancement  is an art as well as a science. Please understand that you should use different filtering to get different results. Always begin with the largest file size and structure as close to original digital video recording as possible.

Call us for a consultation on your video that needs forensic enhancement 800.647.4281

Laquan McDonald Police Video With Audio is Fake

December 4th, 2015

On November 24, video of the Laquan McDonald shooting was released by the Chicago police department – video that did not have audio. Subsequently, a video of the same incident, allegedly with audio, was posted on YouTube. I was asked to take a look at the video and offer my professional opinion as to the authenticity of the audio portion.

During my investigation of the YouTube video titled “Is this the audio? Chicago Police dashcam video of Laquan McDonald shooting”, I discovered several anomalies and inconsistencies using Time Domain Analysis, Frequency Domain Analysis, and Critical Listening Skills. I have outlined these anomalies and inconsistencies.

Frequency Analysis:

Frequency_Analysis_Laquan

  • In the image above, the Spectrogram shows the cutoff frequency of the gunshots well above the cutoff frequency of the noise floor, or background noise (radio chatter & siren). A closer look at the difference in frequency content between the gunshots and background noise is displayed in the image below:

Frequency_Analysis_Laquan_2

  • The cutoff frequency of the audio content from the YouTube video titled “Is this the audio? Chicago Police dashcam video of Laquan McDonald shooting” is around 16 kHz. This is displayed in the image below:

Frequency_Analysis_Laquan_3

Based on my experience, audio recorded evidence produced from law enforcement vehicles contain a cutoff frequency of 4kHz. I have examined the frequency analysis of the audio recorded in the original video evidence with lack of radio communication & officer dialogue. The cutoff frequency analysis of the original video evidence is displayed below:

Frequency_Analysis_Laquan_4

Based on my testing and analysis, I can confidently say that the audio portion of this video has been manufactured and added to the video. For what purpose? Only the ‘creator’ of the video can answer that.

Frequency_Analysis_Laquan_5

  • The original video released by Chicago Police contains recorded audio content of crosstalk, and alternator or engine noise (see above image). The noises that are audible within the original video recording are low in amplitude but can be heard with a significant increase in volume. Because this digital recorder recorded an audio track, it is my opinion that it was functional and had the ability to record sound. Because of the lack of officer dialogue, radio chatter, we believe the lack of these sounds was due to the following reasons:
  1. The on-person lavalier microphones within the vehicle were muted
  2. The on-person lavalier microphones within the vehicle were disconnected
  3. The on-person lavalier microphones within the vehicle were deactivated
  • The gunshots, and radio chatter heard throughout the YouTube video titled “Is this the audio? Chicago Police dashcam video of Laquan McDonald shooting” are duplicated, equalized and are not genuine or authentic. Previously in this blog I discussed the inconsistency between the cutoff frequency of the gunshots and cutoff frequency of the background noise within the audio content. In addition, the audible fingerprint of the gunshots within the Spectrogram has a distinct shape, size, and intensity that are consistent with duplication or repetition. The frequency decay of the gunshot, timbre or sound of the gunshot, as well as duration of the sound are almost identical. The gunshots are displayed in the image below:

Frequency_Analysis_Laquan_6

The radio chatter sample at timecode 0:04.387 (MM:SS:MS) is an exact duplicate of the radio chatter sample 0:03.000 (MM:SS:MS). The conversation being spoken is identical. The difference between the two is that the duplicate has been processed using equalization to deceive the listener into believing it is additional radio conversation.

This video claiming to have genuine audio is indeed a fake.

The Video Recordings of the Shooting of Laquan McDonald

December 3rd, 2015

Laquan McDonaldOn November 24, 2015, police video that captured the shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois was released to the public, almost 13 months after the incident took place. There has been a public outcry regarding not only the death of McDonald, but also the videos themselves.

The following blog post clarifies why there could be an absence of audio during the multiple videos released by the city of Chicago from the Laquan McDonald shooting.

Dash Camera Surveillance Systems Record Video and Audio

Video surveillance systems are closed circuit video recording systems that keep a pre-determined area under security by recording video and audio. Surveillance video cameras aid in deterring and documenting crime and other activity.

Some video surveillance systems record audio, others do not. Video surveillance systems in many department stores do not record audio. Video surveillance systems in gas stations, convenience stores and banks often do record audio, as well as video.

Police car dash cam surveillance systems record both audio and video for two reasons:

  1. To protect the police officer
  2. To deter profiling

Video Surveillance Systems like the ones used by the Chicago Police include Audio Recording

The question remains, why do the videos released by Chicago authorities of the Laquan McDonald shooting lack audio? What are the sounds heard on the video recordings that sound like sirens or whining?

If you watched the videos that have been released so far, electronic noise can be heard. This is defined as electronic cross talk. The digital video recorder in the squad car was recording audio, that is why we hear that whining sound. The problem is that no audio signal was being sent to the recorder. Was it a technical glitch or did the officers elect not to activate their body microphones? Perhaps they were all muted? Was there a problem downloading the digital recordings from each police car? Who has the chain of custody logs for the handling of this evidence?

In an interview for the Associated Press, our lead Audio Video Forensic Expert, Ed Primeau, comments on the lack of audio from multiple police cars being a red flag.

In a second interview for the Associated Press, published by ABC News, fellow Audio Video Forensic Expert Gregg Stuchman comments that ‘It’s plausible for a single squad car to have a glitch preventing sound recording.’ How could multiple cars not have recorded audio?

“I’ve never heard of it before,” Stutchman said. “It raises a red flag. The more likely explanation is that audio was intentionally switched off.”

The reality of this situation is that a full forensic investigation needs to be performed by a neutral, independent Audio Video Forensic Expert in order to determine the reason for the absence of police dialogue and radio communication from the audio portion of the digital video recordings released in the Laquan McDonald shooting.

We have examined thousands of police dash cam systems here at Primeau Forensics. Some include audio, others do not. There are three methods of activating dash cam video and audio.

  1. The officer activates the recording manually
  2. The squad car reaches a certain, predetermined speed for recording to begin
  3. The video is engaged in record when the squad car flashers are activated

One important note; the officers have the ability to mute or not activate their body microphone transmitter should they decide. However, the in car microphone almost always remains on.

YouTube Fake Squad Car Video

The Associated Press asked Primeau Forensics to examine a YouTube video of the Laquan McDonald shooting that has audio. After careful forensic examination of the  video, Ed Primeau concluded beyond a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that the audio track on the video is fake. Careful analysis of the audio spectrum contained on the video indicates many signs of post event alterations.

We hope this blog post about dash cam video and audio surveillance recordings will help clear up any misconception about the absence of audio on the Chicago Police Dash Camera Videos.

Audio in Video Evidence

April 29th, 2015

Audio EvidenceWhen performing an audio and video authentication and analysis,a trained audio video forensic expert will utilize several methods in an attempt to detect an edit in a video recording that is used as evidence. Some of the time a critical ear can be just as important to a video forensic expert as the scientific community accepted software tools and an established chain of custody.

Though it is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” an audio file can be worth even more in a video forensic laboratory. A trained video forensic expert knows what to look for (or listen to) during a forensic video authentication and analysis investigation.

Many CCTV systems now have the capability to record audio, and this audio portion of the surveillance video recording can be crucial to the legitimacy of the digital video evidence. Audio is a great tool to investigate and detect an anomaly or edit when investigating a video recording. To do so there’s a process and protocol we follow at Primeau Forensics. 

Audio is comprised of “sound pressure waves,” which are waveform representative of the change in air pressure in a recording. One characteristic of sound pressure waves is that they are always smooth and continuous.

Let’s say, for example, you’re recording in an open, quiet room. While you’re recording, a rebellious teenager comes in the room and blows off his air-horn. Even though that loud sound completely changed the overall sound in the room, the wave that represents the pressure change will always be smooth and continuous.

The only time that a wave is not smooth and continuous is when an edit is made. Keeping this in mind will give you more of an idea of what you’re listening for.

When an edit is made to a recording, this disturbs the waveform. This makes it temporarily rigid and inconsistent. All sound pressure waves should be the opposite of that. So, when I am critically listening and hear a sound that is outside of that smooth, uninterrupted audio file, I know I have an anomaly that may be an edit.

How is that disturbance represented? Well, it will usually manifest itself in the form of a ‘pop’. In the context of video, it usually will only last a frame, but the sound will be there. If you hear anything that deviates from the already established waveform, you know that the evidence may have been edited.

Adobe and Izatope RX has software that allows a forensic experts to more accurately detect these edits. For example, a “spectrogram,” detects the “noise floor” in a recording. The spectrum recorded for a noise floor should be consistent in visual characteristics as long as nothing changes with the ambiance in a recording. When you see a deviation in that consistency, just as if you hear one in the dialogue, you can tell that the audio, and sub-sequentially the video, may have been altered.

There are many ways to detect edits visually when reviewing digital video evidence. Beginning with an established chain of custody and performing forensic video authentication and analysis will reveal integrity in your video recording or anomalies that reveal scientifically that the CCTV video recording may have been compromised and is unreliable.

Increase in Body Worn Cameras

April 15th, 2015

vievuIn the last few years, Primeau Forensics has seen an increase in cases that involve surveillance video including body camera video recordings. This digital video evidence is very important in order of investigators and the Trier of Fact to understand the events as they occurred.

Much of this activity began back in 2013 and helped locate and identify the Boston Marathon Bombers. FBI investigators had to cull through dozens if not hundreds of hours of CCTV video surveillance recordings in order to find and identify the terrorists that were eventually responsible for these acts of violence.

Lately, video as evidence is expanding to include body worn cameras that have been implemented into many police agencies across the United States. President Obama authorized funding for police agencies to purchase this equipment. Currently, there are numerous police agencies around the country that are testing different makes of body cameras and learning how to properly integrate them into their procedures. Many of these agencies have been transparent with their testing and have begun to approve further funding to outfit more officers with cameras.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan Police Department was recently testing two different kinds of body-worn cameras among eight different police officers, who presented their feedback on the camera systems online. The city has now approved the funding for two hundred officers to be outfitted with cameras. The Seattle, Washington Police Department has also been very open about their body camera testing, even releasing some of the footage online for the public to see. To maintain privacy, they blurred the video and removed the audio so no individuals could be identified. A large amount of the public has been pushing for police worn body cameras ever since the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri last August.

The benefit of body worn cameras is that they protect everyone, police officers as well as citizens. Many police agencies are in full support of the cameras because they reduce the questioning of what happened during an altercation. If a disagreement is established against an officer, internal affairs will be able to check the body camera video and see the events as they occurred. Police agencies believe this will be very helpful with training officers and improving the relationship between the public and police.

The biggest issue arising from the increase of body worn cameras is the huge amount of data being created. Not only does this require a very large amount of storage space, but it must be stored securely so that the video evidence cannot be tampered with. Thankfully, many of the companies providing these body worn cameras also include proprietary software that ensures the evidence cannot be modified between the camera and the system. Access to the video will be limited to authorized personnel only to maintain the authenticity and safety of the video evidence.

As a Video Forensic Expert, I see many benefits to this increase in body worn cameras. I have worked on numerous cases in which evidence from a body worn camera greatly helped the investigation and proceeding trial. Police dash cameras have often been used as video evidence for investigations but they often do not show the entire altercation because of their stationary view. Police body worn cameras add a second perspective to be used along with the dash cam which can be invaluable to an investigation. Having the two angles of the event in question allows anyone involved in the case to get a better picture of what happened.

Of course all video recordings submitted as evidence in a civil or criminal litigation must have an established chain of custody that supports the events and provides integrity for the digital video evidence. We encourage you to review our series on How to Properly Record a Police Officer when adding Good Samaritan video recordings to an investigation.

 

Video Evidence – South Carolina Officer Shooting Unarmed Black Man

April 8th, 2015

South Carolina Officer Shooting Unarmed Black ManA South Carolina police officer was arrested yesterday for the murder of an unarmed black man. This is all because of a video that surfaced of the North Charleston officer, Michael Slager, firing eight times at the unarmed man as the man fled in an open field.

According to police reports, the victim in question, 50-year-old Walter L. Scott, continued to flee after being hit by the officer’s stun gun. Police report that Mr. Scott had taken Officer Slager’s stun gun, which lead to a reasonable pursuit.

However, the video seems to show a different story. The stun gun is dropped, and after Mr. Scott is gunned down and the officer is seen dropping something next to the unarmed man. It is not clear as to what was dropped; however, some fear that this was planted on the man after his shooting, as police report that the officer’s taser was taken.

Whatever the case, the innocent bystander who recorded Good Samaritan video aided in this investigation. Not only did he take the responsibility to record the events, but he also utilized landscape mode on his cell phone to record the altercation. This provided additional digital video evidence for this investigation.

As you see in the first few seconds of the video, his shot in “portrait” orientation would not have accurately captured the events as they occurred. Mr. Scott would have run off screen, and we never would have seen this happen. However, because he shot the video in landscape mode, we’re able to see the shooting clearly.

Situations like this help reinforce the importance of the little devices in our pockets. Smartphone video can make or break a case like this, and we need to understand why it’s so crucial to utilize the tools we have when an unlawful event occurs. If it weren’t for this Good Samaritan, this story may have gone unseen and unnoticed. It really shows how important video can be.

You can watch the video below via the NY Times:

 

Creating Video Work Products as an Audio/Video Forensic Expert

March 9th, 2015

Video Forensic LabVideo work product is a way to document forensic investigations, like evidence recovery, for reference at a later date. Processes and procedures are documented using a video camera during a forensic investigation for future use. I have referred back to my video work product many times when I have questions later during the evolution of the case.

As an Audio & Video Forensic Expert, I have examined hundreds of audio and video recordings to determine authenticity, as well as enhance characteristics of the digital evidence to clarify the events as they occurred. This video recording is referred to as ‘video work product’ and comes in handy.

There are a few different digital video recording platforms that I use when creating ‘video work product’. I often use VIEVU body worn cameras and HDSLR
photography based cameras. Each one of these types of systems serves a certain purpose in assisting with a forensic investigation, as well as the investigative process.

Over the last few years, I have seen firsthand the significance and overall efficiency that body worn cameras and their recorded video can bring to the public, law enforcement and legal proceedings. I personally use the VIEVU LE2 and LE3 body worn cameras. The LE3 records in 720p HD resolution and utilizes a 68 degree field of view. Other competitor cameras tend to use a 130 degree field of view, which captures a wider field of view but captures less detail. Detail is often more important when it comes to video evidence, which is one of the reasons I prefer to use VIEVU cameras.

These body worn cameras also contain digital audio recorders, which record MP3 format audio at a 44.1kHz sampling rate and a 64kbps bit rate. This high sampling rate captures the full range of human hearing, making any audio that is recorded on the camera more audible. In some cases, the client lawyer or law enforcement agencies that I work for require that no audio be recorded while video is being taken. The LE3 audio recorder can be switched off separately from the video, which gives me flexibility in such a situation. The LE3 records to either MP4 or AVI video format for easy playability across various platforms utilizing the H.264 codec. These formats also allow easy integration into my forensic programs, such as the Adobe Production Premium Suite. The 16 GB flash style storage system allows for either 12 hours of SD video or 6 hours of HD video and quick data transfer rates. The battery will last 5 hours during SD recording and 3 hours during HD recordings. The unit is also compatible with an external battery pack for extended battery life.

My main use for the LE3 body camera in my investigations is recording my forensic process in the field. This includes retrieving evidence from different systems so I can review the video later and include it in my report to support the authenticity of my work product and any evidence used in the case. Often times a forensic expert will be challenged by a client or opposing lawyer to verify the chain of custody of the materials produced during an investigation. Even minor details about how the investigation was conducted can have a large bearing on the authenticity of the evidence. Having a digital video recorder on my person during my forensic investigation allows me to capture both video of my process and my dialogue explaining the process. Including this work product to my forensic reports verifies the chain of custody and protects me as a forensic expert.

Another type of digital video camera that I use to produce video work product is an HDSLR photography camera. This type of camera equipment has become popular among the scientific community, as well as production companies, for its portability, versatility, quality and functionality. An HDSLR photography camera can use different size lenses to capture both images, as well as video, in different ways depending on the investigation requirements. HDSLR cameras record in 720p, 1080p, anamorphic and even 4k resolution. These cameras typically record at 30 minute intervals and have a battery life of approximately 2 hours of recording time, depending on the preferred quality and the available storage space. When connected to an external power source, these cameras can record for longer intervals of time. HDSLR cameras are great for recording a locked down alternative perspective to body cameras of an investigation or retrieval process. The flexibility of being able to produce individual still images as well as video throughout an investigation is also helpful with my forensic process.

In some investigations, a single video recorded perspective may not be sufficient to display the forensic process or document the events. Having another high quality camera with flexibility of perspectives and interchangeable lenses can capture aspects of my investigation that body worn cameras cannot. This lockdown feature of a point and shoot camera can also allow an investigator or client attorney to view the process as if they are sitting there watching in real time. Another use for HDSLR cameras as a forensic expert is recording accident reconstruction videos. An accident reconstruction video is a recreation of an event or series of events in the same environment that they occurred so they can be shown to a client investigator, client attorney and/or law enforcement. An accident reconstruction video is most effective to show the real life series of events as opposed to a 3D animation or a written statement of the events.

Video recorded by Closed Circuit television (CCTV) surveillance systems has been the dominant source of video evidence that I have investigated during my 30 years of being an audio video forensic expert.

Video evidence produced by CCTV systems can help solve crime, as well as reproduce accidents and disasters as they occurred for play back in many different settings. One significant use a video forensic expert has when recording video from a CCTV system is to create an exemplar. An exemplar recording is a recording made in the most similar way possible to the original piece of evidence using the same equipment, settings, environment and conditions of the original evidence. This recording is used as a comparison file to the original evidence to help determine the authenticity of the original evidence. Both the quality of the video and the metadata included in the files will be compared when conducting a forensic investigation.

It is a best practice of ours at Primeau Forensics to video record many forensic investigations, such as our exemplar creation process or evidence recovery, so if our client has any questions during the life of their case, this video work product can be referenced.

Video Forensic Expert Edward J Primeau Curriculum Vitae

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