FOX13 Investigates: Who's profiting from body cam video?

By: Greg Coy

Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Every single Memphis patrolman is equipped with a body camera.

Tax payers made the million-dollar investment in the technology to safeguard against police abuse and false claims by citizens. 

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We found out the cameras have another unintended benefit to the consumer. 

People involved car accidents such as LaKendra Smith who has been driving since she was 17-years-old.

"I am a good driver I think I'm a magnet for people to hit me,” said Smith as she drove FOX13 to the same intersection of Elliston and Elvis Presley Boulevard.    

"Monday I was in a car accident, it was at the red light. The lady hit me from behind," said Smith "I jerked. My baby shirt and hollered at the same time"

Smith showed FOX13 the pictures taken with her cell phone of damage to her car. 

A Memphis police report will give a narrative, driver information and a diagram of the crash. 

"But they ended up giving the lady a ticket because of her not having insurance,” said Smith

What Smith didn't know if there is video of the crash scene recorded by the body worn dash camera of the officer who investigated her accident.  

Patrolman turn on their cameras at every crash scene and the video is then uploaded and stored. 

FOX13 asked what did she think the video would show. 

Smith said, “That I was innocent and that she was in the wrong."

FOX13 Investigates discovered some private citizens, insurance investigators and personal injury attorney's requesting the police video of car accident aftermath.         

Personal Injury Attorney Adam Johnson of Nahon Saharovich and Trotz filed an open records request to get the police body worn camera from accident that happened almost two and half years ago.  

"Certainly overtime people's memory can change. So it is a very accurate snapshot in time of their memory of how the wreck occurred. Is at that specific time right after the accident has occurred. Rather than trying to get a state been six months later,” said Adam Johnson, a personal injury attorney.

FOX13 asked how does police body camera of a car crash protect the consumer. 

“It can also be helpful I can show injuries to a party. They can show property damage to the vehicles” said Johnson “So it can be used in a lot of useful ways. As the police officers are doing the investigation."   

Johnson believes other lawyers will follow his lead as they negotiate personal injury settlements.

“So I can certainly see insurance companies using it to try and influence to show a jury.”

Terry Cox was the National director of the National Association of legal investigators. 

He told FOX13 both insurance and trucking companies have been collecting video from traffic cameras and other data to build their case.        

He expects requesting body worn cameras video of accidents will become routine. 

Cox said, "It may be the only video evidence at the scene, particularly if it is a rural seen or rule area on the interstate where they wouldn't be security cameras and traffic cameras and things like that."

For Lakendra Smith, the video recorded by police might help her as she haggles with her insurance company because her car was totaled.  

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