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A Las Vegas Case Shows Why Police Body Cameras Are So Important

Video footage helped bring federal charges against a former officer who beat up a woman he accused of being a prostitute.
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REUTERS/David Becker

Former Las Vegas police officer Richard Thomas Scavone was hit with civil rights violation charges by the U.S Department of Justice on January 12 for roughing up a woman he accused of being a prostitute. His upcoming trials, in both federal and local courts, will serve as a barometer of the efficacy of police body cams in bringing abusive police to justice.

Scavone’s attack on the woman was captured on a department-issued camera he was wearing. His explanation has been that he assailed the woman for resisting arrest, which was disputed by both the camera recording and his partner who was present for the attack. He was initially charged just with misdemeanor battery, and was fired last September. But if the federal charges stick, he could face 20 to 30 years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines for excessive use of force during an arrest and obstruction of justice.