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Champagnie calls for video footage to be admitted as evidence in court

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross and Jerome Reynolds

Following public outrage over a video in which the police attempted to arrest a woman in a manner that some persons believe too much force was used, attorney Peter Champagnie has recommended that amendments be made to the law to allow for electronic evidence to be admitted in court.

The incident was recorded by an unknown bystander. An appeal has since been made by the police to the person or persons who are responsible for recording the video, to come forward and confirm the origin of the video.

Champagnie showed support for the police's suggestion.

"We need to recognise that the justice system cannot function independently or in isolation. It doesn't function in a vacuum and you can't have your cake and eat it. You can't, on one hand, cry 'we want justice' and when you are called upon to serve as jurors or witnesses when you have video recorded such an incident, you refuse to come forward, and then you criticise the justice system. It can't work that way," he said.

Former Justice Minister Mark Golding also supported the suggestion, but added that the appropriate measures need to be put in place to ensure that justice prevails in these types of cases.

"We amended the law last year to facilitate the easier admission into evidence of computer-generated evidence. I would see the sense in completing a review of the audiovisual evidence that can be recorded by phone to make it easier, but again, one would have to look at all the issues that arise to ensure that there is fairness in the criminal filing process and that fairness is not compromised," Golding said.

In 2010, there was national outrage when a police sergeant was seen on video shooting an unarmed man on the ground in Buckfield, St Ann.

The man later died. The policeman was freed of the charges after the owner of the video did not give a statement, despite many appeals.