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Police turn off dash cam during arrest

Dash cam video showing an arrest is suddenly turned off by a St. Louis police officer.
April 10, 2014

ST. LOUIS - Dash cam video showing an arrest is suddenly turned off by a St. Louis police officer. Now the man arrested is filing a lawsuit against officers claiming excessive force.

A spokesperson for the city tells NewsChannel 5 the officer that turned off the camera violated a policy and has been disciplined. None of the officers involved were disciplined.

St. Louis city police say they pulled over Cortez Bufford and a passenger on April 10, 2014, after his car matched a description to a shots fired call. Police say they tried to get him out of the car, but he did not comply. You can hear a man screaming and see a struggle ensue in the police dash cam video. A few officers kick Bufford as he continues to fight back, then an officer uses a taser on him.

They are on the ground for nearly two minutes when you hear an officer say, "we are read right now," which means the camera is on, and then the camera shuts off.

"Hold up, everybody hold up, we are red right now, so if you guys are worried about the cameras just wait," the unidentified officer said.

The attorney for Cortez Bufford says there was no reason for the police to pull over his client, and no reason for officers to kick him.

"You watch the foot go back and the foot go forward, now I think you can go to the police academy for a long time before they say the right move is to kick they guy," Bevis Schock, Bufford's representative, said.

During the struggle police found a 9mm pistol, 5 live rounds, and marijuana on Bufford. Bufford was charged with resisting arrest, along with drug and gun possession, but those charges were later dropped.

Brian Millikan, attorney for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, represented four officers during the internal investigation.

"The officers followed the use of force continuum," Millikan said. "They took the suspect into custody with the minimal force that was necessary that evening."

Police say it was inconclusive if Bufford and the passenger were involved in the original shots fired call.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police department did not have a comment, but forwarded NewsChannel 5 to the mayor's office.

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office of Jennifer Joyce says they don't normally discuss why a case has been dismissed because once it is, it becomes a closed record.

However, they released the following statement:

"Just as in every case, the Circuit Attorney's Office continued an investigation into the incident regarding Cortez Bufford after charges were filed. As standard procedure, prosecutors requested a copy of the police dash-cam video, which was not available at the time of the initial warrant application. Several prosecutors reviewed the video and were concerned to see the intentional deactivation of the dash-cam video. The office immediately reported this concern to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Internal Affairs Division and to the sergeant of the officer involved. Additionally, prosecutors conducted a separate review to determine if any police conduct depicted on the video rose to the level of criminal activity. The review process included thorough interviews of the officers present during the incident. Subsequently, the Circuit Attorney's Office concluded the conduct did not violate Missouri law. In August 2014, the office dismissed charges against Mr. Bufford."

Also see:

Ballwin man found dead in burned-out car
Ill. lawmakers push body cam funding bill
Gunman gets 40 years for shooting officer
Dash cam shows Washington officers saving man's life
Videos released of officer-involved shooting

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