St. Louis Cops Turned Off Camera to Hide Abuse of Suspect

St. Louis cops turned off a dashboard camera that recorded them tasering and kicking a man pulled over at a traffic stop. But as the cops were abusing Cortez Bufford, a female officer told them to stop as a camera in a police car was still videorecording. 

“We’re red right now!” the officer exclaims before abruptly turning off the camera. "Red" is reportedly police slang for recording. The term comes from the red light seen on video devices that signifies recording.

Lawyers for Bufford say that what is seen before the video is switched off proves that the police used excessive force and lacked probable cause to arrest him. Bufford’s lawyers have filed suit against the three police involved in the incident in St. Louis Circuit Court. Bufford had injuries, including abrasions to his fingers, face, back, head, ears and neck. His lawyers say that his medical bills were about $6,500, but the amount sought in the lawsuit is not known.

Bufford was charge with illegal weapon use, a felony, as well as a misdemeanor for resisting arrest. However, the charges were dropped in August. Despite this, lawyer for the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association say that officers acted appropriately and the video recording shows a proper escalation of force applied against a suspect who resisted arrest.

A lawyer representing the police implied that charges were only dropped against Bufford because of the protests that were erupting in St. Louis and nearby Ferguson in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by police.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay had delayed the release of the tape this past summer during the time of the Ferguson protests.

The video shows Bufford being pulled over after making a U-turn and stopping abruptly. Officers say that the car matched the description of a car that was seen at a location where gunfire was reported. Officer Nathaniel Burkemper said that Bufford declined to give his name to him after being pulled over and later refused to get out of his car. Burkemper says that Bufford also had marijuana in his car.

Bufford was forced from the car by Officer Burkemper after back-up units arrived, and additional officers were needed to subdue Bufford. Before the video is turned off, police can be seen struggling with and kicking Bufford. One, Officer Monroe Jenkins, now claims he kicked Bufford because he was attempting to grab his weapon. Bufford was then jolted two times with a taser.

It was at this time that Officer Kelli Swinton is heard to tell the other officers to stop the abuse, implying that their actions might be caught on video.

“Hold up. Hold up, y’all. Hold up. Hold up, everybody, hold up,” says Swinton, “We’re red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait.”

Soon after the camera stops recording. See the video below: 

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