Watch CBS News

Cops caught on camera raise questions on use of force

LOS ANGELES -- Two incidents caught on camera this week have raised new questions about the use of force by law enforcement.

The first was the deadly shooting a week ago of Walter Scott, an unarmed man in North Charleston, South Carolina. The police officer involved, Michael Slager, was arrested on murder charges and fired after a cell phone video of the shooting was made public.

Overwhelming turnout for Walter Scott’s funeral 01:49

Meantime, 10 sheriff's deputies in Southern California are on leave after attacking a suspect Thursday at the end of a three-hour chase in cars and on horseback.

Video shot by a KNBC Los Angeles helicopter showed two deputies kicking and punching 30-year old Francis Pusok as the man lay on the ground, hands behinds his back. More deputies joined in, striking him more than 50 times in total.

"I am disturbed and troubled by what I see in the video," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Friday, announcing that several investigations are underway.

Based on the video, McMahon said there appeared to be no justification for the use of force -- although he could understand how things got out of hand.

Dash cam video shows routine traffic stop before fatal shooting 03:17

"When you get to the end of a pursuit ... it is very difficult to control your emotions and adrenaline, not that this is an excuse for what happened," McMahon said.

With cameras so prevalent these days that practically every arrest could be captured on video, officers have long been put on notice and are now trained to keep those emotions in check.

Despite that, recent videotaped incidents across the country appear to capture excessive use of force -- sometimes at the slightest threat.

"They know there's cameras all over the place," said retired LAPD Captain Greg Meyer, an expert on police use of force. He called the San Bernardino case particularly disturbing.

Analyzing the video: What went wrong in fatal S.C. shooting? 02:43

"He is spreading himself on the ground with his arms and legs out," Meyer described. "At that point, you would expect the two deputies to handcuff him ... It's not supposed to go over the line of them punishing the person."

Meyer said it's not just the two initial deputies who face scrutiny but also the others who were there.

"They have a duty to say something and even physically pull somebody out," Meyer said. "All officers are trained for this. You can be in big trouble, including criminally, for failure to intervene."

The FBI is investigating the Southern California case to determine if there were any federal civil rights violations.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.