Body-worn camera footage in the courtroom: an examination of the effects of BWC expert testimony on perceptions of police officer trustworthiness and guilt
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As more police agencies rely on Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) worldwide, the following study aims to guide policing and legal proceedings through an examination of perceptions of guilt and trustworthiness of an officer on trial for excessive force, where BWC footage is presented as evidence. More specifically, the presence or absence of expert testimony on BWC limitations, and the degree of unverifiable details present in the officer’s testimony (i.e., unverifiable by BWC footage), were manipulated across various study conditions through mock trial transcripts. Although primary analyses were nonsignificant, supplementary analyses suggest that expert testimony may result in lower guilty verdicts when BWC evidence is presented for officers on trial. Additionally, positive perceptions of police legitimacy and legal authoritarianism were associated with lower ratings of officer guilt and higher ratings of trustworthiness. This thesis provides a steppingstone for future research on the implications of BWCs and its use in legal proceedings.