Examples of 2014 videos showing police using force

Features Associated Press

Sometimes videos of police using force seem to justify those actions; other times, they appear to prove officers acted wrongly. In either circumstance, seeing such videos might give viewers a false sense of understanding what happened when they don't have full context. Video involving law enforcement has factored into perception of numerous police use-of-force cases this year. Some examples:

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FEB. 14: Las Vegas

Dramatic cellphone video recorded by stopped motorists and obtained by a newspaper shows federal land management rangers and a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper scuffling with a 20-year-old man before he was fatally shot on a road outside Las Vegas. Authorities say D'Andre Berghardt Jr. was carrying a suitcase and other items and walking in and out of traffic. An attorney representing Berghardt's family calls for federal prosecutors to take over the investigation.

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MARCH 16: Albuquerque, New Mexico

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A helmet-camera video shows a homeless, schizophrenic camper being fatally shot by officers after he gathered his belongings and appeared to prepare to surrender in an hours-long standoff. Other video released later by police shows that James Boyd pulled out two knives on officers who initially approached him and repeatedly threatened to kill police. On one dashboard camera video obtained by KOB-TV, one of the officers who shot Boyd was recorded earlier saying he would shoot the suspect in the penis. Boyd's shooting has prompted a federal investigation, a violent protest and a wrongful-death lawsuit.

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APRIL 19: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Video posted on YouTube shows an officer shoving a man against a parked car, throwing him to the ground and punching him. Investigators determined the man started the conflict and then resisted arrest, even while on the ground. The officer is later cleared of allegations of using excessive force.

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JUNE 15: Pittsburgh

In a brief video clip posted online, a police officer punches a 22-year-old woman at a gay pride event. The officer says he was trying to break up a fight when he grabbed the woman by the head and punched her in the side so he could handcuff her, and that he fought with him. An advocacy group asks police to investigate the officer's actions, and city officials determine he didn't use excessive force. The woman was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

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AUG. 5: Beavercreek, Ohio

Surveillance video without audio shows police responding to a 911 call fatally shoot 22-year-old John Crawford III inside a Wal-Mart, where he had picked up an air rifle from a shelf while talking on a cellphone and walking through the store. Police say he didn't respond to orders to drop the weapon, and a prosecutor cites the video to explain why the shooting was justified. Crawford's family says the footage shows the shooting was unreasonable and he had no chance to react. A grand jury concludes the shooting was justified. A federal investigation is pending.

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SEPT. 4: Columbia, South Carolina

A South Carolina state trooper's dashboard video, with audio, shows an unarmed driver being shot in the hip during a traffic stop. The trooper asks to see his license, the driver turns and reaches back into his car, and the trooper fires. The officer later offers an explanation to the driver: "Well you dove head first back into your car." The trooper is fired and charged with assault. The case is pending.

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SEPT. 20: New York City

Amateur video captures an altercation between police and a pregnant woman who is taken to the ground on her stomach by an officer. Police say she tried to intervene in the arrest of her teenage son in Brooklyn. Her attorney says Sandra Amezquita was asking police to "stop using excessive force" on her son. New York City police are investigating.

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Associated Press News Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.