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North Texas Defense Attorney Says Social Media Holds Police Accountable

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DALLAS (CBS11) - Two high-profile deadly police shootings this week, both involving African-American men, were captured on video, and social media played a role in the ensuing outrage and frustration. Experts say with video capturing tension like never before, it can be a game changer in a court of law and public opinion.

There are eyes everywhere now, capturing the final moments of Alton Sterling's life in Louisiana, and now Philandro Castile's in Minnesota.

"He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him in his arm," said a woman on Facebook identified as Diamond Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend. She turned on Facebook Live immediately after an officer fired the fatal shots.

Dallas-area criminal defense lawyer Toby Shook believes this will be the new normal.

"As they say, a picture's worth a thousand words. Video's worth about a million words," said Shook.

Last month's officer-related shooting at Dallas Love Field Airport was also captured on camera. Shook says these videos can expedite investigations and improve accountability for law enforcement.

"I think police officers now know they can always be held accountable and can be prosecuted anytime an incident like this happens, because there's probably going to be a video of it," said Shook.

They also spark emotions - both in the aftermath and, later, if the cases go to trial.

"A jury's always going to have those images in their mind, so they're very powerful pieces of evidence," Shook said.

He says videos are now often the primary evidence, making it a challenge for attorneys to downplay that emotion. Shook believes as technology evolves, even more changes will come.

"Our whole lives are going to be videotaped at all times. So it's going to change the way we investigate these cases, and it's going to change the way we try these cases."

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