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'Body Camera' Could Hold Key in Excessive Force Claim

Sunday, June 22, 2014
The outcome of a California woman's claim that police used excessive force during her arrest could hang on what a police officer's "body camera" saw.

Bana Mouwakeh was arrested after being stopped by the San Diego Sheriff's Department last October, according to ABC News affiliate KGTV in San Diego.

The sheriff's office told KGTV that Mouwakeh was arrested for assault after she reached up and grabbed an officer's safety vest, ripping it off. Deputies then arrested Mouwakeh and pulled her from her vehicle on charges of battery and resisting arrest.

Mouwakeh's case could be decided by what was recorded by the "body camera" worn by one of the arresting officers. Video posted by Mouwakeh's attorney online and by KFMB-TV in San Diego shows Mouwakeh arguing with officers and then the officer's vest ripping.

Mouwakeh is then quickly pulled from her car and arrested, while she is face down in the road.

Body cameras have become more common for police officers across the country as a way to protect both officers and citizens. According to ABC News station KABC-TV in Los Angeles, police in Rialto, Calif., saw an 88 percent drop in complaints against officers after they started using the cameras and a 60 percent drop in the use of force by officers.

In this case it is unclear whether the camera will help Mouwakeh or the arresting officers.

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Mouwakeh's attorney Mary Frances Prevost wrote in a post online that her client was trying to get the officer's name and touched his vest to see his badge when it ripped.

However an arrest report obtained by KGTV tells the story from the officer's point of view.

"Mouwakeh reached out the vehicle and grabbed Deputy Rosas' person and his uniform," the report said.

Mouwakeh was then ordered out of the car, and after she refused to comply, police removed her and arrested her, the report said.

According to the officer's report, Mouwakeh was also argumentative before she grabbed the officer's vest.

Prevost did not immediately return ABC News' calls for comment on the police report version of events.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department did not comment to KGTV, citing the ongoing investigation.

When contacted by ABC News, a spokesperson said they did not have any additional statement.

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