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Officer's Body Cam Fails To Capture Footage Of Woman Shooting Herself In The Head While Her Hands Were Cuffed Behind Her

Published: March 19, 2019
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Source: Tech Dirt

A 19-year-old woman whose hands were cuffed behind her back when she committed suicide during a traffic stop in Chesapeake died of a gunshot wound through the mouth, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

This is the official line -- one repeated several times by local journalists. The traffic stop leading to this highly unlikely conclusion occurred July 25, 2018. Here's what the Chesapeake Police Department said then:

Officers pulled over the car at 4:24 p.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Berkley Avenue and Wilson Road, police said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

The exact timeline is not clear, [spokesman Leo] Kosinski said. As officers used a stun gun on the driver, Wilson, who was a passenger, shot herself, he said. Police attempted life-saving measures and called for medical assistance, but she died at the scene, the news release said.

The original report also noted the PD was looking at body cam footage from the scene to determine what happened.

Less than a week later, the initial impression was the official narrative.

Police had handcuffed Wilson when Medlin began resisting arrest and trying to flee, said Officer Leo Kosinski, police spokesman. Wilson was left standing next to the passenger side of the car while police rushed to help the officer who was trying to arrest Medlin, he said.

It was then that Wilson somehow got a gun and shot herself in the head, Kosinski said. It was not immediately clear how Wilson got the gun, but it was not a police weapon, he said.

“We clearly ruled that it was a suicide,” Kosinski said.

"We." I guess that means the PD since the medical examiner didn't hand down his declaration until March 14, 2019. The police department, however, made its own unscientific findings public twice in one week.

As for the body camera footage, there was nothing usable there.

One officer was wearing a body camera, but it was “knocked offline” while Medlin was fighting the officer, Kosinski said. If the camera hadn’t gone offline, it still wouldn’t have recorded the shooting, Kosinski said, because the officer was struggling with Medlin.

The police department has 356 cameras and deploys "40-60 per shift." The department has 525 officers so it seems the odds were in favor of there being multiple cameras on the scene. But the only footage recorded didn't capture the incident. Multiple police cruisers were on the scene, but the Chesapeake PD decided to eliminate dash cams when it acquired body cameras, removing one more impartial witness.

With the official word from the state, the Chesapeake PD closes the book on an extremely dubious "suicide." Whether this is just a bunch of lies or some very terrible police work, the end result is the same: someone in handcuffs ended up dead. The odds that this person decided to escalate a traffic stop to a successful suicide attempt are incredibly low. Something fucked up happened that afternoon and the police department hasn't even attempted to explain how something like this might have happened. Since the medical examiner has spoken, the Chesapeake PD has decided it's no longer obligated to provide an explanation.

The CPD launched an internal investigation into Wilson's suicide in July. Kosinski confirmed that the department has since concluded that investigation, but declined to comment on its outcome.

Worse, there's been no pushback from the local media covering this arrest and its ensuing, and completely unbelievable, suicide. This isn't journalism. It's stenography.

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