Editorial: Video evidence of shooting an absolute safeguard for police officers

There are two morals to the story concerning the Paulden man who was shot by a Yavapai County Sheriff’s deputy and Chino Valley police officer Friday, July 21.

First, never, ever expect a good outcome when you confront a police officer and you have a gun in your hand. Police reports state Martin L. Avena was being pursued following a domestic violence report and police were alerted that Avena was armed. The police report continues that when stopped, Avena confronted the two officers with a handgun. He was shot, and later died.

The old rule of shoot or be shot applies, and one must conclude the officers acted appropriately.

The second moral goes along the lines of the old saying that the proof is in the pudding. The Sheriff’s Office says there is video of the confrontation from a deputy’s body camera and it is expected to be released this week.

The wisdom of Sheriff Scott Mascher’s efforts to have his officers equipped with body cams is clearly evident in a case such as this. Having video evidence of incidents such as this goes a long way toward proving the propriety of police actions in officer-involved shootings, or the lack thereof.

Locals will well remember the dashcam video of the violent, and deadly, confrontation between members of the Gaver family with Cottonwood police in the Wal-Mart parking lot in March 2015. Three people were shot during that incident, leaving one person dead and ending the career of a Cottonwood officer.

The video evidence of the violence of that brawl speaks for itself.

Remember, this is a day and age in which police officers are routinely thrown under the bus for doing their jobs, and doing them professionally. Having video evidence of their actions while in the line of duty protects officers from unwarranted accusations. Likewise, it can provide evidence in the event an officer steps over the line.

Officer involved shootings routinely are investigated by an outside agency, typically the Arizona Department of Public Safety. In the non-video era of such investigations, when the DPS would rule an officer acted appropriately, police critics would respond with a claim that this was just a case of police protecting their own. Video evidence of such incidents can put these claims to rest.

Sheriff Mascher obviously made the right call in having his officers equipped with body cams.

Videos do not lie.

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