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Police turn to the public to identify suspects on video footage

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When security footage comes on the news, how often is it that anyone can actually make out a face clearly? The tapes are often blurry or pixelated, so it can be next to impossible to make a positive identification based off of security footage. And that is when a person is looking clearly at the security camera. If his or her face is turned away, it can be even more difficult.

With that in mind, why then do police and news media insist on showing pictures or video from security footage in an attempt to find suspects? With the strict evidentiary requirements to arrest, charge or convict someone, relying on security footage can be suspect. Yet it has not stopped Toronto police from releasing three security footage stills of three men believed to have assaulted a woman at Brassai Bistro late last month. They are looking for help in finding out who those men are.

In only one of the pictures is one of the men’s faces visible, but the other two are pictures of the backs and sides of two of the suspects’ heads. One is even wearing a hat, so all that is visible is a bit of his cheek and neck. With very few identifiable characteristics, any tips as to who these men are will need to be heavily corroborated.

With such little information to go on, it would be quite difficult for the Crown to prosecute anyone subsequently identified as these men in these security footage stills for assault.

Source: CBC News, “3 persons of interest sought in violent restaurant assault,” May 17, 2014

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