Martavious Banks was shot during a traffic stop on September 17 in South Memphis and is currently in the hospital in critical condition with a collapsed lung. He was shot by an officer of the Memphis Police Department, whose name has not been released.
According to MPD Director Mike Rallings, the incident was not captured by the body camera on the primary officer because it was deactivated. Rallings has said that there were two other officers involved in the situation, and that they did have their body cameras activated. The officers at MPD currently use Axon Body Cameras, which have rather self-explanatory technology with a simple on and off switch.
About one-third of the 18,000 police departments in the United States were using body cameras as of March 2015. The Memphis Police Department has a policy in place that states that all officers must activate their body cameras every time they respond to a call for service. Any time an officer has a law-enforcement related encounter or activity that happens while on duty, the officer must turn on the camera.
According to the MPD, their officers receive one to two hours of body camera training. During this training, a body camera team trainer comes to the department and stays until all participants are operating their systems correctly and have a complete knowledge of house to use the device.
“I don’t find it coincidental that if you have more than one person there and multiple cameras goes off at the same time, I think there’s something wrong with that,” says Mike Collins, a former Lieutenant for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office when asked to comment on the situation.
Members of the Memphis community, including Banks’s family, are also suspicious of why the primary officer’s camera was deactivated and what really happened during the incident. Two days after the shooting, protesters took to the streets to demand answers and justice for Banks. During the protest, six people were arrested for disorderly conduct when the police said they were blocking the road.
The three officers involved in the shooting have been taken off duty. Rise Up Memphis, a local activist group, is requesting the release of the officers’ names and that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation look into all officer-related shootings. As of now, their policy only requires that they investigate officer-related shootings that are fatal.