Saint Louis Police Turned Off Dash Cam While Beating Suspect, Lawsuit Alleges

A Saint Louis police officer ordered her fellow officers to turn off her dash cam so they could beat a suspect without being recorded, according to a lawsuit filed by the victim.

The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cortez Bufford was pulled over on April 10, 2014, following an illegal U-Turn. Police claim that his vehicle also matched the description of another vehicle that was involved in a “shots fired” incident a few minutes before.

Bufford’s lawyer Joel Schwartz told ABC News that during the stop, officers used “excessive force” in subduing his client, who claimed repeatedly that he didn’t do anything wrong.

“He pulls over, the officer tells him to get out. You can hear him refusing, asking the officer what he did. The officer… gets angry, at some point he says he smells marijuana, and drags [Cortez] out of the vehicle… the officer took him to the ground.”

During the scuffle, much of which was recorded on police dash cam, an unidentified female officer can be heard telling her colleagues to stop roughing up the man until she’s had time to turn her dash cam off.

“Hold up. Hold up, y’all. Hold up. Hold up, everybody, hold up. We’re red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait.”

A few seconds later the dash cam goes silent.

The dash cam video is posted below; you can hear the unidentified officer telling her colleagues to stop at 7:53.

The term “red” in this case is police jargon for a running dash cam.

Maggie Crane, spokesperson for Saint Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said that the officer who turned off her dash cam has been “disciplined.”

“That camera should not have been turned off.”

She also noted that the issue of the dash cam being illegally turned off should not be “conflated” with Bufford’s claim that the Saint Louis police used excessive force, which is a separate issue and is the matter at hand in Bufford’s lawsuit.

Brian Millikan, a lawyer for one of the officers in the video, told reporters that the officers’ use of force was justified.

“The use of force that was necessary in this case was a direct result of the defendant`s actions or the suspect`s actions. If you`ll notice, there was a passenger in that vehicle. He voluntarily removed himself. He complied with the officer`s requests and commands. There was no physical force necessary.”

Bufford’s lawyer, however, claims that the dash cam video – before it was illegally turned off – speaks for itself.

“People can draw their own conclusions. If we felt [the cops’ alleged action] was justified, we certainly wouldn’t have filed suit.”

All charges against Bufford resulting from the traffic stop in which the dash cam was shut off – including resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, and weapons charges – were later dropped.

[Image courtesy of: Raw Story]