NEW YORK The makers of a small, digital camera that attaches to the barrel of a gun say the device would have ended any dispute about what happened in the Sean Bell shooting.
Now, a former Bronx homicide prosecutor who helped develop the Pistol Cam wants the NYPD to consider putting the audio and video gadget on its service weapons.
By using the mini-cams to review their actions, "hopefully, [officers] will make better decisions under the most stressful circumstances," ex-Assistant District Attorney Bill DeProspo said.
Although a judge last month cleared three police officers of any crimes in Bell's death, the training and procedures that the cops followed face almost certain review.
If the cameras had been used in that case, they would have given investigators instant video from several perspectives and provided audio to show whether the officers identified themselves before they unloaded 50 bullets.
DeProspo said the device could even be used to try to prevent such deadly shootings. Its footage could be made part of NYPD training to better show what to do - and not to do.
Bell was unarmed when he was shot dead by the cops in Queens 18 months ago. He and his friends were leaving his bachelor party at a Jamaica strip club at the time.
Cops who followed Bell and his friends to his car said they thought one of them had a weapon, although no gun was ever recovered.
Instead of relying solely on eyewitness testimony in such cases, investigators would have crucial footage if the gun-mounted cameras were used. The device is turned on by a magnetic switch as soon as the firearm is pulled from its holster, DeProspo said.
Encrypted software would keep unauthorized officers from tampering with the data, which can instantly be uploaded to a laptop via a USB connection, he said.
DeProspo said the cost of the cameras - $600 a piece - would be offset by money the city could save in lawsuits if armed with such devices.
DeProspo is no stranger to cop-shooting controversies.
He served in the Bronx District Attorney's Office in 1984, when an elderly, knife-wielding grandmother, Eleanor Bumpers, was shot dead by cops during a chaotic eviction.
Union officials for patrol officers and detectives, and the NYPD all declined to comment.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department is field-testing the camera.
Additional reporting by Christina Carrega
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