Police Body Cameras and Us: Public Perceptions of the Justification of the Police Use of Force in the Body Camera Era

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Abstract

Using an experimental design, this research looked at the medium of presentation (text, audio, video) through which members of the public were exposed to a controversial police shooting. Furthermore, this research tested whether the officer’s immediate reaction to the shooting (crying, talking, or calling his attorney) across mediums of presentation impacted the public’s perception of justification. We found that the medium of presentation did matter; those who were exposed to the shooting through video were significantly more likely to perceive of the shooting as unjustified when compared to those who were exposed to the shooting through text or audio. However, officer’s reaction did not have an impact on perceptions of justification for the shooting. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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