Analysis: The Rodney King Trial

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In combination with highlighting and coding videos, attorneys use expert witnesses to “teach” the jury how to look at events being shown, and see the information that best supports the party’s claims; this is what Stuart (2011) called an “ethnography of seeing”. This can be easily illustrated by providing the example of how this happened in the first Rodney King trial. The expert witness used by defense, Sergeant Charles Duke, explained the officers’ use of force as justified and not excessive. This view achieved supremacy among the jury because the expert’s vocabulary use in describing the events drew upon practices that were rooted within the policing institution. He explained that the officers’ actions against King were guided by what was…show more content…
Stuart (2011) explains that this has created a major asymmetry between the parties involved in criminal and civil trial proceedings, in regards with being able to speak as, or provide an expert witness. This is shown in Goodwin’s 1994 examination of the Rodney King trial in which an expert, who was not even present at the scene, was able to authoritatively describe what the policemen were able to legitimately see as beat the…show more content…
The Rodney King incident took place 23 years ago, however the issue of police brutality against African American men persists today. Even when verite video that captures the incident from start to finish and audio is heard from both parties, police are continuously let off. Lets take for example the contemporary 2014 incident, in which a police officer placed African American male Eric Garner in, what looked like a chokehold, which ultimately killed him in the streets of New York City – all caught on video by a passerby’s cellphone. After considering everything seen and heard in the video, including Garner claiming 11 times “I can’t breathe”, a jury decided to not indict the officer. The autopsy examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, explaining the death was caused by compression of the neck and chest (Calabresi, 2014). Chokeholds have been banned in New York since 1993, however ‘experts’ explained that the video showed the officer using a “submission hold”, which is not prohibited (Shapiro, 2014). Although there has not been official academic publications or examinations on this particular case, one is able to see that issues regarding video evidence are still prevalent

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