When a man was fatally shot by a police officer on a street in Oakland, Calif., late last month, the shooting was captured by a video camera.
But the video was not taken by an alert pedestrian with an iPhone. It was recorded by a device clipped onto the police officer’s chest.
The Oakland Police Department is one of hundreds of law enforcement agencies that are trying out the body-mounted video cameras, using them to document arrests, traffic stops and even more significant encounters, like officer-involved shootings.
The ubiquity of video in police encounters — some of it promptly uploaded onto YouTube — is creating new frontiers for judges and lawmakers, who must sort out the issues raised by the new technologies.
Courts in several states are considering cases where citizens who videotaped the police have been charged with violating wiretapping or eavesdropping statutes, prosecution that civil rights lawyers say violates First Amendment rights.