Video footage showing violence against a Black person at the hands of police has again put the public on edge and sparked protests across the country. This time, some of the footage comes not from police body-cameras or bystanders but from a camera mounted to a light pole.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday he was “appalled” by videos from Jan. 7 showing five Memphis police officers brutally beat 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who died on Jan. 10.
All five officers, who are also Black, have been charged with murder.
Three of the four police videos released Friday were captured via officers’ body-cameras. But one of the videos showed a more sweeping view of officers punching and kicking Nichols.
It was taken from farther away by a “SkyCop” camera mounted on a light pole, and shows multiple officers violently push Nichols to the ground and kick him in the face. Memphis has a network of the cameras, which were intended to help police catch criminals and to deter crime.
Here’s what to know about the “SkyCop” camera:
Do other cities have similar cameras?
Memphis isn’t alone in using the technology. Besides the Memphis police department, law enforcement in West Memphis, Arkansas; Blytheville, Arkansas, and Little Rock, Arkansas, have used SkyCop surveillance technology.
Similar technology has been deployed in other cities including, Atlanta, Baltimore and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Previously, privacy watchdogs — including the American Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Democracy — have expressed alarm about such systems.
WHEN THE OFFICERS ARE BLACK:Tyre Nichols’ death raises tough questions about race in policing
What is a SkyCop camera?
The SkyCop products are white boxes that have cameras and blinking blue lights on them.
The boxes can be placed on buildings, light poles or units can be freestanding and attached to a mobile trailer base.
SkyCop cameras are intended to detect crime using gunshot identification technology and license plate recognition, according to the company’s website.
The company’s website says the cameras also deters crime just by being in plain sight.
In video footage from Jan. 7, the camera points down an empty residential street, then begins to slowly turn, stopping to film police officers bending over Nichols, who is curled up on the pavement.
See the police video from the SkyCop camera below:
Memphis has used SkyCop cameras since 2007
The Memphis police department has been using SkyCop cameras since 2007, according to the Commercial Appeal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Later, the department began using SkyCop cameras as part of its “Blue Crush” crime reduction initiative to surveil “targeted crime hot spots,” according to a 2017 press release on SkyCop’s website.