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Body camera program brings unease for Mass. police, and, perhaps, a new age of accountability

Boston Globe, September 2020

Seconds after firing 26 bullets into a Boston man who had allegedly waved a fake gun, the police officers and a state trooper scanned the scene and took stock of the frantic moment. “Are you all right — did you shoot?” asked the trooper, while offering an officer a handshake. “Did you shoot too?” he asked another.

They breathed heavily and started to congregate as Juston Root lay dead or dying a few feet away, in a mulched median strip of a parking lot in Newton. And then, just as quickly, attention turned to something else. Several had body cameras clipped onto their vests — and running.

“I’m still on, I’m still on,” an officer said, gesturing to a camera, as a colleague approached.

A trooper offered another officer a reproof: “Just shut your [expletive] mouth. You got a [union] rep coming? … You did nothing wrong.”

“Yeah, yeah, I won’t talk,” the officer responded. Another advised: “Don’t say nothing to nobody.” Minutes later, when the directive came across the police radio to turn off all body cameras, some officers exhaled deeply.

These outtakes from one of the first batches of footage made public under Boston’s fledgling police body camera program offer a rare, street-level glimpse into unvarnished police behavior amid the chaos of a crime scene.

Continue reading at the Boston Globe.

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