TWO videos. Two similar situations. Two very different outcomes.

In the first video, a man runs at a rookie police officer, yelling at him to pull the trigger. He holds his nerve under unspeakable stress.

In the second video, a man walks towards an officer with a knife. The officer pleads with the man to drop the weapon. He keeps coming and the officer fires four shots into his chest. In the background a woman can be heard saying: “Tell me you didn’t shoot him”.

Police footage of a man daring an officer to shoot him.

Police footage of a man daring an officer to shoot him.Source:YouTube

The videos are disturbing for their content. Even more disturbing is that they’re freely available on YouTube, where anybody — children, the victims’ family — can relive the horror in real time, from the officer’s first person point-of-view.

The footage is captured on body cameras and, once uploaded, the public can decide in the comments section whether officers acted lawfully or with excessive force.

Body cameras are used increasingly by officers in the US and the footage they capture has never been more important. Public Order and Riot Squad police in NSW are trialling the cameras and they could be rolled out across the country. It’s too early to tell if that’s a good or a bad thing.


Jesse Kidder has nerves of steel. The rookie cop and former marine was confronted with a man determined to take a bullet. But Kidder held his nerve.

It was in Ohio last month when Kidder was confronted by Michael Wilcox, 27. Wilcox had allegedly shot his fiancee and best friend. When Kidder arrived, Wilcox immediately charged at the officer, daring him to shoot.

The footage (above) shows Kidder back away repeatedly before stumbling and falling backwards. Wilcox eventually surrenders and a relieved Kidder can be heard breathing heavily into his lapel camera and microphone.

Kidder told Cincinnati’s WLWT that “law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split second decisions that mean life or death”.


Spencer Mortensen wasn’t so lucky.

Prosecutors in Idaho released footage in January last year clearing Mortensen of any wrongdoing after he responded to a domestic situation and shot and killed a man with a knife.

In the video, captured by the officer’s body camera, Mortensen is told by a woman that Dalton Gardens, 35, was attempting to self-harm in the kitchen of his home.

Cop shoots man armed with knives dead

Mortensen enters with his gun raised and asks for Gardens to come to the front door. After refusing, the officer peers around a corner into the kitchen.

Gardens, without saying a word, walks towards the officer who repeatedly tells him to drop the knife. “I will shoot you,” he says, before opening fire.

Outside, Gardens’ partner can be heard saying repeatedly: “Tell me you didn’t shoot him”.


Police in the US are on the wrong side of a PR nightmare. The deaths of Michael Brown, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray have sparked riots and cast a spotlight directly on police conduct. For accountability and protection against false allegations, police in a number of states have been forced to record their interactions with the public.

In Seattle, police are so concerned with transparency that they’ve set up their own YouTube channel. But the technology and the dos and don’ts around publishing are relatively new.

The New York Times reports police departments in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are still testing the systems.

In Australia, the progress is far less advanced. But there are suggestions that body cameras are on their way. NSW and the NT are leading the charge.

NSW Police Association president Scott Weber said last year the cameras will be good for cops and the community.

“Video captures events in a way that can’t be represented on paper in the same detail and it has been shown the presence of this type of video can often defuse potentially violent situations without the need for force to be used,” he said in a statement.

Police in Australia could be armed with body cameras soon.

Police in Australia could be armed with body cameras soon.Source:Supplied

“It will also show police dealing with difficult and dangerous situations every day and it will also provide clearer evidence when it’s been alleged that police got things wrong. That has to be in both our own and the community’s interest.”

Greg Barns, president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, wrote an opinion piece for the ABC in January where he suggested any rollout of wearable police cameras must be accompanies by appropriate safeguards around privacy.

“Police wearing body cameras is a good idea at first glance, particularly when one considers the amount of court time that goes into hearing evidence from defendants, witnesses and police in cases where there are allegations of impropriety by police,” Mr Barns said.

“But like many good ideas, the use of cameras by police needs to be analysed carefully. If it is to work as a safeguard for both police and citizens, there need to be clear rules about how cameras are used and what happens to the footage obtained from cameras.”


By Adam