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Dashcam Records Cop Turning Camera Off While Officers Allegedly Beat and Tase Teen

“Hold up,” a female officer tells her colleagues while they appear to pummel a St. Louis man during a traffic stop. "If you guys are worried about cameras, just wait."

by VICE News
Feb 16 2015, 11:46pm

Imave via St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Fox2

VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here.

A St. Louis cop faces disciplinary action after she warned fellow officers about a dashcam recording while they allegedly beat and used a Taser on 18-year-old Cortez Bufford during a traffic stop last year.

Video footage released by Bufford's lawyers shows a number of officers dragging him from his car and apparently shocking him with a Taser while he is on the ground. Bufford was stopped after he made an "illegal U-turn" and "abruptly parked" on a street near Lafayette Park in St. Louis on April 10, 2014, according to a police report obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Video footage shows the traffic stop of Cortez Bufford. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the portion of the clip where the officer turns off the camera.

The police report claims Bufford refused to leave his Ford Taurus and allegedly reached for his pocket as police wrestled him out of the vehicle. Excerpts of the video have been uploaded on YouTube, and the full clip is viewable in full on the Post-Dispatch website. In the footage, one of the officers appears to kick Bufford in the head after he yells while he's being hit with the Taser.

Police recovered a Kel-Tec 9mm semi-automatic pistol after the arrest. The report also mentions that officers smelled marijuana and noticed "plastic baggies and a green leafy substance" in Bufford's vehicle.

Toward the end of the video recording, another officer, Kelli Swinton tells the officers, "Hold up. Hold up, y'all. Hold up. Hold up everybody, hold up. We're red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait."

"Red," is police slang for a camera that is recording, according to Bufford's lawyer, who filed suit against four of the officers on his client's behalf in January.

Seconds after Swinton's warning, the screen goes black. After the recording was cut off, the lawsuit claims police continued to beat Bufford and caused injuries that resulted in $6,439.32 worth of medical bills.

Police charged Bufford with resisting arrest and unlawful use of a weapon. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office told the Post-Dispatch that authorities later dropped the charges because "the action of turning off the dash cam video diminished the evidentiary merits of the case."

The officer who switched the camera off has been "recommended" for discipline, but is appealing, police told KTVI-TV (Channel 2).