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Analyzing video evidence
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:32 pm 
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Hello,

I just discovered this site and found a lot of useful information. I would appreciate any suggestions or tips for handling my situation.

Last year, I received a ticket for "red light - fail to stop" when going east through an intersection one morning. When I saw the light turn amber, I was going at least 50 km/h (the limit) and initially started to slow down but didn’t think I could stop in time without a very sudden stop, so I continued through the intersection. I was pretty sure it was still amber when I entered the west side of the intersection, but the officer said it was a solid red light.

I requested a trial and then went to court in July, intending to plead "not guilty." I hadn’t realized that I should have asked for disclosure earlier but was advised to do so in court, so I did and was given a new court date. I just received the video and have a few questions about it. Note: The officer’s vehicle was stopped on the south side of the intersection in the curb lane, and the camera captured only the east half of the intersection. Also, the side-view angle of the lights on the east side of the intersection makes it hard to see exactly when the lights change colour in the video, but I think I can just make it out.

1) If I find a discrepancy between the video and the officer’s notes, would I be able to use that against his credibility? In his notes, he wrote that when the "N/B lights changed from green to amber," he "looked to the west" and saw the car in front of me "enter the intersection just as the N/B light turned red." This is not true for the following two reasons, so could I use either of these to help me discredit his report?
a) The N/B light was already red, while the E/B light turned amber.
AND
b) The video shows the light turning red after that car had completely finished passing through the intersection and already driven off.

2) Going frame by frame through the video, the light seemed to turn red four tenths of a second before my car appeared on the camera in the middle of the intersection (again, the lights were not very clear in the video, but this is what it looks like). It then took me about one second to finish going through the second half of the intersection, as recorded on the camera. Would I be able to argue that I would have already entered the intersection before the light turned red, since it would also have taken about one second to cross the first half of the intersection? (This is logical, but I’m not sure if this carries weight because the first half of the intersection is not on camera.)

3) In the video, the officer stopped me and then reported to his unit that he had caught "another vehicle," suggesting I was at least the second in a series of people he had pulled over that morning. I remember noticing how within a minute of handing me the ticket, he had sped off ahead of me and stopped another vehicle just past the next intersection. Does the idea that he was trying to reach his quota help my defense at all? (I’m guessing not?)

4) When the officer asked if I knew why he had stopped me, I said it was because I had gone through a yellow light. Then he replied, "Not where I was looking…. When I looked, you were coming through on the red light." As recorded on camera, he also went on to explain that "regardless, even if there was no red light, it was an amber light; an amber light - fail to stop is the same charge as a red light - fail to stop." Is this really true?
If this is not true,
a) would this help me make a case against his understanding of the charge?
OR
b) would this not make a difference? (I have read in another post: "Also, the Police are allowed to lie while exercising their duties, just like they are allowed to speed, so again this means that even if he admits to it, the JP will barely consider it." Is this really true???)
topic7453.html

After reading through section 144(18) and related discussions, there is another important point of clarification I am wondering about: What exactly are the elements that define the offense of "red light - fail to stop"? If I enter the intersection on an amber light that turns red before I reach the other side, does this constitute committing the offense?

Thank you in advance for any insight or help you can provide!


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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:14 pm 
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Thinker wrote:
2) Going frame by frame through the video, the light seemed to turn red four tenths of a second before my car appeared on the camera in the middle of the intersection (again, the lights were not very clear in the video, but this is what it looks like). It then took me about one second to finish going through the second half of the intersection, as recorded on the camera. Would I be able to argue that I would have already entered the intersection before the light turned red, since it would also have taken about one second to cross the first half of the intersection? (This is logical, but I’m not sure if this carries weight because the first half of the intersection is not on camera.)


The video evidence is not the be all and end all of your trial. The officer will have his own recollections for whatever is not made clear through the video.

Thinker wrote:
3) In the video, the officer stopped me and then reported to his unit that he had caught "another vehicle," suggesting I was at least the second in a series of people he had pulled over that morning. I remember noticing how within a minute of handing me the ticket, he had sped off ahead of me and stopped another vehicle just past the next intersection. Does the idea that he was trying to reach his quota help my defense at all? (I’m guessing not?)


No

Thinker wrote:
4) When the officer asked if I knew why he had stopped me, I said it was because I had gone through a yellow light. Then he replied, "Not where I was looking…. When I looked, you were coming through on the red light." As recorded on camera, he also went on to explain that "regardless, even if there was no red light, it was an amber light; an amber light - fail to stop is the same charge as a red light - fail to stop." Is this really true?
If this is not true,
a) would this help me make a case against his understanding of the charge?
OR
b) would this not make a difference? (I have read in another post: "Also, the Police are allowed to lie while exercising their duties, just like they are allowed to speed, so again this means that even if he admits to it, the JP will barely consider it." Is this really true???)
topic7453.html


Trying to beat an amber is also illegal and they are both "Fail To Stop" charges (Amber Light - Fail To Stop and Red Light - Fail To Stop). They are their own charges, but fall side by side. The fines are slightly different, but long term you'll be paying out the same. Your insurance provider for example treats them exactly the same.

I'm not sure how you made the leap to lying. If an officer is wrong, he/she is allowed to make a mistake. Either way it's irrelevant to whether or not you went through a red light or not. You're grasping here.

Thinker wrote:
After reading through section 144(18) and related discussions, there is another important point of clarification I am wondering about: What exactly are the elements that define the offense of "red light - fail to stop"? If I enter the intersection on an amber light that turns red before I reach the other side, does this constitute committing the offense?


No, it doesn't. A more suitable charge could be laid, however.


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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:24 am 
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(1) and (2) : yes these are good defenses. if you entered the intersection on an amber light before it turned red, then the charge he gave you is the wrong one and should be dropped.

(3) : no this will not help you at all.

(4) : the two charges are the same fine and same demerits but are not the same charge. So if you entered the intersection when it was amber before it was red, then the proper charge should have been "amber light fail to stop". There is nothing in what the officer said that can help you. He just gave you the wrong charge according to the video.

Since you have to stop at the line on the road, the officer has to prove that the light turned red just before you passed that line. If you were already passed the line when the light turned red, then the charge should be dropped.

So this is what will happen...

The officer will give their testimony according to what is in their notes and then you will get to cross-examine them and them questions about what they said. This is NOT the time to give your version of what happened and is NOT the time to give your side of the story... this is the time to ask the officer questions about what they said. You will start by asking officer if you had passed the stop line and entered the intersection before the light turned red. Most likely answer will be yes. Then you ask if it is possible that you had actually passed the stop line and entered the intersection while the light was still amber before it turned red. Most likely answer will be no. You then need to get the video out and show it to officer. The first question would be to ask if this is the video he provided to you in disclosure and then ask if it is the video of this particular incident.

You need to bring a copy of the video on an external USB stick and also bring a laptop that can play the video. You should send a letter to clerk of court and to prosecutor telling them that you want to play the provided video in court and will need them to bring the video and equipment to play it. Most likely they will not have any equipment for you to play it on though, so you need to have your own copy with your own device to play it. Do NOT bring the video just on a laptop because it is possible they will want to hold the laptop for evidence. You need to bring the video on an external USB stick ($6 at Staples) and then bring a laptop that you have tested playing it on. This way if they want to keep the video as evidence then you can just give them the USB stick and not the whole laptop.

You will then play the video to officer as many times as needed in normal speed or slow motion and then ask a bunch of questions... In your questions you are trying to get the officer agree that it is possible that you passed the stop line and entered the intersection before the light turned red.

When you are done with the officer, you will then be able to get on the witness stand and you will basically tell your side of the story, most importantly you need to say that you are certain you passed the line and entered the intersection before it turned red.

So now if it was only your word against the officers word, then most likely the JP would side with the officer. However you now have video which sounds like will help your side of the story and bring some reasonable doubt to the officer story. So the video (along with proper questions to the officer) is the key to getting the balance shifted to your story.

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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:44 am 
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jsherk wrote:
(4) : the two charges are the same fine and same demerits but are not the same charge.


They are not the same fine, but it's neither here nor there.


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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:37 pm 
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jsherk wrote:

When you are done with the officer, you will then be able to get on the witness stand and you will basically tell your side of the story, most importantly you need to say that you are certain you passed the line and entered the intersection before it turned red.


Except that he is only 'pretty sure'. You are counselling perjury again. One day someone inexperienced with the court process (which is likely the case for most people who start a thread here) will follow your advice in their particular thread and get themselves into trouble.

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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:58 pm 
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If you are only "pretty sure", then that is what you should say on the witness stand. Never lie to police and never lie when on the witness stand.

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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:02 pm
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Thank you for your comments so far.

Actually, I remember that the light was amber when I entered the intersection and then turned red as I was in the middle going through it. However, the officer insisted it was a solid red. I admit it was close but do believe it was still amber.

bend wrote:
Trying to beat an amber is also illegal and they are both "Fail To Stop" charges (Amber Light - Fail To Stop and Red Light - Fail To Stop). They are their own charges, but fall side by side. The fines are slightly different, but long term you'll be paying out the same. Your insurance provider for example treats them exactly the same.

I'm not sure how you made the leap to lying. If an officer is wrong, he/she is allowed to make a mistake. Either way it's irrelevant to whether or not you went through a red light or not. You're grasping here.


Then let's say he made a mistake. Isn't this completely relevant because he charged me based on this mistake?

jsherk wrote:
(4) : the two charges are the same fine and same demerits but are not the same charge. So if you entered the intersection when it was amber before it was red, then the proper charge should have been "amber light fail to stop". There is nothing in what the officer said that can help you. He just gave you the wrong charge according to the video.


If he gave me the wrong charge according to the video, doesn't that mean the charge is not valid? All this time, I had been thinking this would be one of the keys to my defense. Maybe I had misinterpreted his statement? I took his words to mean that he was charging me with "red light - fail to stop" regardless of whether the light had been red or amber. Can't I argue that he obviously didn't seem to care what colour the light actually was and just assumed it was red?

jsherk wrote:
You need to bring a copy of the video on an external USB stick and also bring a laptop that can play the video. You should send a letter to clerk of court and to prosecutor telling them that you want to play the provided video in court and will need them to bring the video and equipment to play it. Most likely they will not have any equipment for you to play it on though, so you need to have your own copy with your own device to play it. Do NOT bring the video just on a laptop because it is possible they will want to hold the laptop for evidence. You need to bring the video on an external USB stick ($6 at Staples) and then bring a laptop that you have tested playing it on. This way if they want to keep the video as evidence then you can just give them the USB stick and not the whole laptop.

You will then play the video to officer as many times as needed in normal speed or slow motion and then ask a bunch of questions... In your questions you are trying to get the officer agree that it is possible that you passed the stop line and entered the intersection before the light turned red.


I would like to clarify a few points:
A) How formal does the letter to the clerk and prosecutor need to be? Would e-mail be acceptable? If not, would fax work? (I have the fax number for the prosecutor's office where I got disclosure, but how would I reach the clerk?)

B) It took me a long time to go through the video (up close to the screen) in order to find exactly when the light turned red. What happens if the officer watches the video and says it is unclear (even after multiple times and in slow motion) just because of the side-view angle of the lights in the camera? If he claims it's hard to tell when the light turned red in the video, would I still be able to make a strong case with the video evidence, or would it come down to my word against his?


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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:23 pm 
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Thinker wrote:
If he gave me the wrong charge according to the video, doesn't that mean the charge is not valid?

Yes that is correct. But that is why you need to testify AND you need the video in order to prove it.

Thinker wrote:
How formal does the letter to the clerk and prosecutor need to be?

Not very... just say exactly what you want. The clerk is reached thru the Provincial Offences office (wherever you mailed/took your ticket). Email may or may not work. I usually just fax both the clerk and prosecutor and this seems to work.

Thinker wrote:
What happens if the officer watches the video and says it is unclear?

When you take the stand to testify and give your version, you can also play the video again and make your own commentary on it.

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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:38 pm 
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jsherk wrote:
When you take the stand to testify and give your version, you can also play the video again and make your own commentary on it.


Am I allowed to comment on the video on the witness stand? I've been reading about rules for presenting evidence, including how a witness's testimony about information gathered by someone else would be considered hearsay. If the officer was the one who recorded the video, can I still comment on it while testifying (about when it shows the lights changing colour, how it agrees with my version, the officer's statements about charges, etc.)?

Thanks a lot for all your help!


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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:03 am 
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Thinker wrote:
Then let's say he made a mistake. Isn't this completely relevant because he charged me based on this mistake?


There was no mistake. I think you misunderstood the officer. The officer said he witnessed you travel through a red and he charged you accordingly with a red light - fail to stop. He said it was red, you said you made the yellow. He said they are both fail to stop either way. He is correct. They are not the same charge, but they are both fail to stop. They both require you to stop and both are chargeable offenses. This was the officer trying to explain to you that yellow or red, they both require the same action and you didn't do it either way.

This was not the officer agreeing with you that the light was yellow but he was still charging you with red light because "they are the same". This was the officer telling you "Even if things did happen the way you say it did, red or yellow you still have to stop and you didn't"


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Re: Analyzing video evidence
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:39 am 
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Thinker wrote:
[Am I allowed to comment on the video on the witness stand? I've been reading about rules for presenting evidence, including how a witness's testimony about information gathered by someone else would be considered hearsay.

Somebody else will have to answer this as I am not sure. However when playing the video to the officer, just make sure to "point out" anything you think is important by asking them a question about it.

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