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Essential Pittsburgh: How Has Citizen Video Changed Our Understanding of Police Encounters?

Scott Davidson

This week a video was released of an Arizona officer using his police cruiser to intentionally run down a suspect-- the latest event involving a police officer's overt use of force. It comes shortly after the shooting death of Walter Scott, as he was running away, by an officer in South Carolina. Are law enforcement officials using an increasing amount of what is sometimes deadly force? We're posing that question to Pitt Law Professor David Harris.

Harris suggests that while it's unlikely that deadly force on the part of police has actually increased, video footage of it has become more common, and increased accountability has followed:

"I don't know that we have evidence that it's worse. I do think there's a greater awareness, a much greater likelihood that we'll have video proof, and, you know, when you see it, even on only a cellphone camera, it's just different than hearing a report of it afterwards. And that's why I think that this seems to be a kind of watershed moment." -- David Harris

Also in the program, a new book co-edited by TrabianShorters observes the everyday lives of 40 black men, paining a picture of how black men are "living, leading and succeeding" in modern America.

The Lives of Black Men in America (begins at 32:14)

Concern regarding the lives of black men is one of the driving forces behind the book “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding," a best-selling collection of essays by prominent black men that tells an up-to-date story about the lives of black men in America. We’re joined in studio by the book’s co-editor Trabian Shorters, founder and CEO of BMe Community, a national network of black men.

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