I'm sure that most of you are now familiar with the story of Sandra Bland's
strange encounter with the cops in Texas, and with the even stranger video edits
that have been found in the dashcam record. Cars disappear and reappear, as if we were watching an early experimental film by Georges Méliès. The Texas Department of Public Safety says that the odd jumps were an uninentional product of the encoding process
Jump cuts of this kind have never marred my own YouTube videos. Just last night, I watched an entire Hollywood classic which had been not-quite-legally uploaded to YouTube. All very glitch-free. In fact, in this household we watch YouTube videos nearly every single night, and I've yet to notice any unintended jump cuts created by the encoder.
A blogger named Ben Norton (to whom I have linked already) thinks that the Texas government's response has been incredibly fishy.
They told the Texas Tribune that the video has not been edited. This seems unlikely. It is possible parts of the repeated footage are encoding errors, but it is unlikely that the 15-second repeated clip of a man leaving the truck is an encoding error.
Others have also noted that police dashcam videos usually have timecodes on the footage. In this video, the timecodes do not appear. Why this is is unclear. There is no answer at this point and an investigation needs to be conducted. A possibility some have suggested, however, is that, if the footage was indeed edited, as it likely was, whoever edited it zoomed in on the video or cropped the timecodes.
YouTube does re-encode most videos, and quality suffers. But the process simply does not create jump cuts -- at least, not in my experience.
Even more troubling is the woman's alleged "suicide" in her cell.
I simply cannot believe that this committed and determined young woman committed suicide. Both the evidence and common sense indicate that the Waller Counter police are guilty of murdering a captive
whom they discovered to be an anti-police activist.
Bland’s family and local activists have demanded an independent investigation, insisting that the young woman who was preparing to take a new job as a college outreach worker would not have ended her own life.
“This was not a suicide. This behind me was murder. All of America knows something is rotten,” the Rev. Jamal Bryant of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore said at a news conference in front of the Waller County Sheriff’s Department and jail.
We should question all
reports of holding cell suicides. The only cases which I would consider credible would involve individuals accused of serious offenses, or individuals with histories of depression. Bland obviously did not belong in either of those categories.
Even more troubling than the dashcam footage is the surveillance camera video of the hallway leading to Bland's jail cell. There is a gap from 7:18 to 7:24 a.m. -- due, we are told, to the fact that the camera was motion-activated. However...
From 7:34 to 9:07 a.m., the video shows no movement in or out of cell 95.
Then, about 9:07 a.m., a female officer can be seen checking the window of cell 95 — and running for help.
A telling contradiction. If the camera was motion-activated, and if the video shows no movement -- then why is there video at all?
I see no time stamp
. I question whether this hallway would be completely clear for more than an hour-and-a-half.
In any editing program (even the most basic), it would be child's play to create a cover-up by manipulating the video record. Less than a minute's worth of motionless footage can easily be stretched into 90 minutes of motionless footage. If a video clip shows no motion whatsoever, that clip can simply be looped. (If I were doing the job, I would cover the seams with a brief dissolve, just to make things extra-tidy.) A twelve-year-old with access to a duo-core computer could pull off this trick.
"Suicide cell" syndrome.
For as long as I can recall, there have been unnerving cases of people who suddenly became suicidal in their holding cells. A few days ago, a young woman named Kindra Chapman
died under mysterious circumstances while in custody in Alabama.
It would seem that our cops want to insure that America's underclass remains perpetually terrified of arrest, even in cases unlikely to result in conviction.
By the way:
If you're curious, the aforementioned Hollywood classic was Gilda
, which I had never seen before. A bit over-rated, perhaps, but well-directed and worth watching. Checkov's gun
receives rather bizarre treatment, given the circumstances. Even by today's standards, that "zipper" line is kind of...wow.