Archive for the ‘Mobile Video Evidence Recovery’ Category

Body-Worn Cameras: Life or Death

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

vievu2-300x286 Body-Worn Cameras: Life or DeathThe more video becomes available the more real life situations enter the courtroom. The quality of body worn cameras as well as surveillance CCTV video is improving to the point that video forensic enhancement is not necessary. In a recent fatal shooting in Flagstaff, Arizona the murder of a police officer was recorded on his very own, department issued body cam. Had his murderer not committed suicide (with the officer’s weapon) he would have, when captured, gone on trial to prove his innocence, possibly with a claim of ‘self defense’ or that the officer attacked him and the gun went off accidentally. If this video was not created hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been spent investigating the circumstances of the officer’s death. None of that expense was incurred, all because of a body camera video.

Primeau Forensics has worked with body camera manufacturer, VIEVU, based in Seattle, Washington, to help their research and development of their body worn cameras, which are primarily sold to more than 4,000 agencies in 16 countries. Primeau Forensics helped them test the field of view (FOV) for their cameras. We researched the various FOV options to learn what degree of a lens was most optimal in body worn camera situations.

President Obama recently proposed a bill to provide funding to police departments for the purchase of body worn cameras. The proposal includes $75 million to help pay for 50,000 of the lapel-mounted cameras, with state and local governments paying half the cost. This proposal occurred shortly after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. This is an important and crucial development in forensic video. As a video forensic expert I am thrilled to see body worn camera video help litigators learn more about a series of events that occurred, first hand, saving our judicial system a lot of money investigating cases and, often, ensuring a correct decision in a person’s guilt or innocence.

The Evolution of Mobile Video and What It Could Mean for Video Forensics

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

tU3ptNgGSP6U2fE67Gvy_SYDNEY-162-300x200 The Evolution of Mobile Video and What It Could Mean for Video ForensicsOver the past few years, we’ve seen a significant acceleration in the development and manufacture of consumer-grade, mobile video devices. From smartphones to GoPros, video recording has become substantially less expensive and far more accessible to consumers, and this may change the game regarding digital evidence.

This consumer video revolution now allows us to capture video of events as they occur. This phenomenon has created powerful repercussions in the courtroom. Thanks to the easy availability of video devices and trends in social media, we now have presented at trial video evidence of events that, until recently, have rarely been made known.

For example, take this video of a woman from Mississippi. As she begins to merge onto the highway, a truck hits her car, causing the car to catch fire. She seems trapped in the car (either physically, or due to shock), and with her children in the back and the flames coming ever closer to the gas tank, she needs to act quickly.

Suddenly, from behind the scene of the accident, another truck driver leaves his rig and tries to save the family by pulling them out of the burning car. Minutes after they are successfully rescued, the car explodes. Had the truck driver been a few minutes later, it is likely that the entire family would have been killed.

This is a heroic, inspiring story. An inspiring story that would have gone completely unnoticed if weren’t for the rescuer’s dash cam recording the entire incident. A heroic act so great that it has rarely been seen outside of movies and television, it became a huge story, and something that would have been unrecognized by the public without the technology of this generation.

However, the documentation of heroic stories like this is only the beginning of the positive effects from the spread of video devices to every pocket, purse, and vehicle. This public video revolution can also make or break a court case, providing the crucial evidence that makes true justice possible.

For this, let’s use the currently infamous video, “Officer Go-F***-Yourself.” The officer in Ferguson appeared at a peaceful protest late one night in August. He approached a group of young adult protesters with an assault weapon drawn, pointed it at them, and he told them that if they did not return to their homes, he would “f***ing kill” them.

In the world of law enforcement, this kind of behavior on the part of an officer is absolutely improper and illegal. The protest was peaceful; the young adults weren’t causing any harm or exhibiting disorderly behavior. Hell, even if they were, threatening protesters in such a crude manor is clearly unacceptable in a free society.

Had this happened 10 years ago, it might have gone completely unnoticed. The officer in question may have gotten away with blatantly making death threats to civilians, and the only evidence from the protesters would’ve turned into a game of “he said, she said.” However, because one of the protesters was smart enough to take out their cell phone and document the entire confrontation, justice was done and the officer was suspended from the force. The police in Ferguson were able to see the events exactly as they transpired, so it was indisputable that he was guilty. This, in itself, is revolutionary, and is an indication of how much power video evidence can have in the courtroom.

The fact stands that a clear representation, such as video, is the most indisputable evidence there is, and allowing the jury, officials and lawyers to witness the event with their own eyes and ears is the most effective way to present evidence. Other forms of evidence can be easily disputed, but allowing the court to see, hear, and experience the event for themselves is the most effective method of presenting evidence, even more reliable than an eyewitness account.

Think about it this way. Consider the most powerful documentaries you’ve ever seen. What do they all have in common? Generally, they all rely on the reality of the situation by allowing viewers to experience it for themselves. You can throw out as many facts and statistics as you want, but seeing, hearing, and experiencing actual issues, people, circumstances, and actions is what will stick with people most. The feeling viewers derive from seeing the faces and hearing the people speak is incomparable to any statistic in the world. This is why Charlie LeDuff’s piece on Ferguson is one of the most powerful, yet. It doesn’t focus on the narrative; it doesn’t focus on stats; it focuses on the people. It focuses on those who are so passionate about this cause that they would fight, risk arrest, or even die for it.

The consumer video device revolution is so important to the justice system, and the best way to reap its benefits is to remain aware of its power. If you experience anything unlawful, always remember that the little rectangle sitting in your pocket could make or break the fate of those guilty. These devices allow us to capture indisputable evidence about what truly took place, and this is a privilege we can’t ignore. If these developments continue, they could completely change the face of digital forensic evidence forever.

Mobile Surveillance Video Recovery – How to Recover Video

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

There are two sections to this blog post. The first section provides information about mobile surveillance video recovery. The second part a guide ‘How To Recover Mobile Surveillance Video.’ We have created a Four Step Process of how to recover video from mobile devices.

This how to guide will help you understand the process of scientifically recovering video recordings from mobile devices. There are areas of concern and protocols to follow. We hope to help you understand the best methods to follow when recovering video recordings from mobile devises.

Recovery of mobile surveillance video is a scientific process. Mobile surveillance video can be recorded on a smart phone, CCTV system or other mobile digital video recorder.  This process also includes establishing a chain of custody. Documenting the recordings integrity for use in court. This documenting of the chain of custody is the beginning step for forensic video authentication and analysis.

During the recovery process, the qualified video forensic expert may also perform hard drive cloning. Hard drive cloning is a process that creates an exact bit for bit clone image of the mobile surveillance DVR’s hard drive. This is most always performed during the mobile surveillance video recovery process and requires additional time.

Video in the Court Room

opened-hard-disk-drive-liying-on-other-hard-drive_zJrBFjCd-234x300 Mobile Surveillance Video Recovery - How to Recover Video

Mobile digital video recording technologies can be difficult and challenging for playback, especially in court. Many systems have proprietary software and require a proprietary video player to view the video.  Playback of these video recordings in court is straightforward, provided the video is played using the original equipment that created the video recording. Otherwise, a qualified video forensic expert can create an open source video file which is much easier to play using various players like VLC and Media Player Classic

Proprietary V.S. Open Source

To further explain, many attorneys and police officers are not aware that there are two types of video recordings that can be recovered. Most fixed and mobile DVR-based surveillance systems employ proprietary systems and record digital video to proprietary formats. Proprietary video recovery has minimal degradation of picture quality during the process of recovering. However, they can be difficult to operate in a court room setting. This is why they are converted to open source. Converting a video file created on a mobile device is often complicated for law enforcement agencies as well as video forensic experts.

There are a wide variety of surveillance system and smart phone manufacturers and a larger number of different models of DVRs. This complicates on-site retrieval of video recordings a difficult process. This often requires access to the technical manual of the DVR or device that created and stored the video recording.

Primeau Forensics Mobile Surveillance Video Recovery

Primeau Forensics experts and technicians perform mobile surveillance video recovery assignments and investigations on many different types of equipment. We have learned that simple cloning of the equipment hard drive would be a mistake.

First, the cloned drive may not mount on our computers, which run Windows and Apple operating systems. Second, proprietary files are often invisible files outside their native operating system. They cannot be detected or read by any operating system but the embedded OS running on the dedicated device. Third, video files may be encoded using a non-standard codec and/or formatted within a non-standard wrapper.

For example, the format of the mobile video recordings frequently used in surveillance systems, come in a multitude formats. Each format has its own structural and descriptive metadata. Some of the files included, such as the control files and system files may not work on general-purpose computers.

Recovery Preparation

Successful mobile surveillance video recovery always requires preparation and research beforehand. We have outlined a four step process for mobile surveillance video recovery outlined below that will help you understand the legalities and science involved.

At trial, verdicts may be determined on the outcome of our analysis of a video that was forensically recovered. We suggest that a qualified video forensic expert recover the video recording to establish a clean chain of custody. A forensic expert will also prevent accidental loss of files and preserve the video quality. This is accomplished though recovery and trans coding to an open format.

How To Recover Mobile Surveillance Video

We recommend the following 4-step process for retrieval of video from DVRs:

1)      As previously mentioned, research the design, inputs/outputs and operation of the DVR you are examining. Obtain the special software, codecs, and technical manuals necessary to examine the unit properly.

2)      Photograph the digital video recorder before you begin the inspection. Take note of any markings or signs of tampering.

3)      Connect the DVR or mobile digital video recorder to the power source that will power the unit best. Sometimes, mobile digital video recorders require an AC/DC cable system to power the unit in an office environment. The location where the mobile video recorder was originally installed may have had custom power connections. These connections may not be available if the unit is removed for inspection.

4)      Connect the data transfer cable supplied with the recorder equipment to your Windows laptop for examination. In some cases, this will be a standard USB or FireWire cable.

Mobile video recorders, in particular, frequently require a proprietary cable. Install the DVR software provided by the manufacturer of the system and you are ready to recover mobile surveillance video. Read the equipment manual to help retrieve the highest quality video recording possible.

If you need professional assistance recovering video evidence from a digital video recorder, please call us today! Call 800-647-4281 for a free consultation.

Video Forensic Expert Edward J Primeau Curriculum Vitae


sidebar map
sidebar video
forensic associations