Surveillance Cameras Lead to Charges Against Law Enforcement


New York, NY—Although video evidence captured by surveillance cameras is a common factor in the capture and indictment of criminals, recent cases have shown that the knife cuts two ways. Police officers, detectives and other law enforcement officials are finding that video surveillance may disprove their testimony against a criminal, and even lead to charges against them.

The latest instance of a law enforcement official being caught on tape was brought to light on Monday, when NYC Detective Debra Eager was indicted on three felony perjury charges. Eager, 41, had testified before a grand jury in 2007 that she and a partner had entered an apartment building in the Bronx and recovered a quantity of marijuana. Video surveillance stood in stark contrast to Eager’s testimony, however, in that it shows that she and her partner entered the building separately and did not, in fact, recover the marijuana themselves. Other details of her testimony were also contradicted by the video, claims the Bronx district attorney’s office, and the disparity eventually led to felony and misdemeanor charges against the drug suspects being dropped.

Several instances in recent months have caused prosecutors either to drop charges against suspects, or to develop a criminal case against the arresting officer.

In September of last year, the Manhattan district attorney’s office dropped charges of assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct that had been levied against a bicyclist named Christopher Long. The arresting officer in the case, Patrick Pogan, was later indicted on charges of assault and filing false paperwork, after videotape showed him knocking Long from his bicycle. Pogan has resigned from the force.

Truck driver Michael Cephus had been similarly charged with assault, but cleared of charges after video surveillance showed that he had been beaten 10 times with a metal baton by a police officer.

Such surveillance tapes have become invaluable as evidence against police officers who have been accused of filing false reports, lying on the witness stand, or other acts of misconduct.

Although Detective Eager pleaded not guilty to the perjury charges, and described the discrepancies between the video evidence and her statements as honest mistakes made while recalling the details of the case. Eager, a 15-years’ veteran with the force, faces up to 21 years in prison if she is convicted on all three counts. She was released on a $15,000 personal recognizance bond and her case adjourned until May.


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