What can Israel learn from Floyd trial transparency? - analysis

what if the trial of Ben Deri, an Israeli police officer convicted of the negligent homicide of a Palestinian, had been broadcast like Derek Chauvin's?

A local resident takes a selfie in front of a mural of George Floyd after the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, found guilty of the death of George Floyd, at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, April 20, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
A local resident takes a selfie in front of a mural of George Floyd after the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, found guilty of the death of George Floyd, at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, April 20, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
The unanimous guilty verdict by an American jury on Tuesday against Derek Chauvin in the brutal killing of George Floyd could be game-changing for relations between the police and African-Americans.
Though this was not the first time an American police officer was convicted of brutality, there are many more infamous examples of police winning acquittals on controversial grounds.
But along with paving the way for social change on the street and legal change in the courtroom, the decision and the conduct of the trial also highlighted the power of transparency.
Not long ago, when a police officer was accused of brutality, there was no video footage, and it was merely the word of the officer against the word of the victim (whom the officer often accused of various crimes).
Without video footage of an incident, there was frequently a culture of senior police officials backing their rank-and-file officers almost automatically and a readiness to accept sometimes manufactured stories of self-defense.
This is not to deny that most police officers are devoted to their calling and risk their own safety to protect their communities. Rather, it is to say that, absent video footage, those bad apples who abused their power could do so with virtual impunity.
Even despite video footage, many officers escaped with light sentences on often shaky grounds.
Part of what was unique about the Chauvin case was the completeness of the footage, which left very little room for any other interpretation of the officer’s intent.
The case, in fact, was similar in some ways to that of the IDF soldier in Hebron 2015 who was videoed shooting a Palestinian terrorist lying wounded and neutralized on the ground.
This is an argument for use of police body cameras and for empowering citizens to record incidents on their cellphone cameras as they occur in real time, for use as evidence in court.
The IDF may itself want to increase the use of body cameras to provide accurate real-time footage of incidents in the field, leaving less room for biased interpretation.
This could also protect the IDF from many of the spurious allegations of “summary executions” in frequent cases where soldiers fire on a Palestinian attacker with a knife.
The second piece of transparency was the trial itself, which was open to the public via video.
If the trial had not been filmed, would all of the police witnesses who testified against Chauvin have done so?
Would the jury have issued the same ruling that it did, knowing that the general public had not seen all of the evidence?
On the flip side, even if the jury had come out with the same verdict, would police supporters and some white Americans who are less sympathetic toward Black Lives Matter have believed that justice was done?
Or would they have accused the judicial system of sacrificing a police officer to appease the anger of black Americans?
But because the trial was broadcast, there has been virtually no criticism of the verdict, except on the most bigoted fringes of society.
In one notable interview, a major Fox News personality emphasized how important it was that Chauvin had been given due process – something that might have been thrown into doubt if there had been less transparency.

ISRAEL COULD learn from this as well.
To date, the High Court of Justice has given only extremely limited permission to broadcast court hearings.
This has usually been only for constitutional cases such as whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could form a government and whether the Shin Bet could perform surveillance of coronavirus-infected citizens.
But what if the trial of Ben Deri, an Israeli police officer convicted of the negligent homicide of a Palestinian, had been broadcast?
Might Deri’s supporters have better understood the strength of the evidence leading to his conviction, and might Israeli critics have better understood the holes in the case exploited by Deri’s defense lawyer to reduce the original manslaughter charges?
Israel always has concerns about security, but in view of the International Criminal Court probe of Israel, convincing the world that justice is done in Israeli courts may be necessary for the country’s future security. It would not be impossible to delay proceedings for a few minutes to edit out classified information.
What if Netanyahu’s trial, at least the portions when he testifies and is cross-examined, were to be broadcast?
Whichever side of the trial one is on, might both the pro- and anti-Netanyahu sides moderate their views by seeing that both sides have some serious legal arguments?
Transparency does not always change hearts and minds. But sometimes it does.
And with transparency, even many of those critics whose views it cannot change must make more nuanced criticisms of the judicial system when they are faced with hard and cold judicial facts and evidence.