Occasionally, however, citizen videotapes show an entirely different set of events than the police report. In March, for example, police in College Park, Md., arrested several students after celebrations following a basketball game turned rowdy. Police charged two students with assaulting mounted police and their horses — until a videotape surfaced that showed police officers beating the students. Charges against the students were dropped, and the officers faced investigation.
Some police departments have acknowledged reality and instructed officers to assume they'll be recorded and act accordingly. Other departments learn the hard way. Beaverton, Ore., was ordered last month to pay a $19,000 settlement to a man arrested after he videotaped his friend's arrest.
As police officers point out, videotapes can be taken out of context, or show an incomplete story. And, in some instances, police might have a legitimate need for privacy, such as when they meet with informants. But there are ways to deal with this without shutting down citizens' rights to protect themselves from abuse.
Via Radley, who is probably responsible for this issue getting attention from the USA Today hivemind.