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NYPD abuses its surveillance cameras

compendium of articles on blatant abuse of surveillance cameras by the New York Police Department

1 April 2004, New York City, New York: Video Of Suicide In Bronx Housing Project Turns Up On Website.

Police said Wednesday they are investigating how a videotape capturing a suicide in a Bronx housing project ended up on a pornographic website. The video shows 22-year-old Paris Lane of Manhattan shooting himself in the mouth. It was recorded on March 16 by a surveillance camera in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. Police say Lane went there to visit his girlfriend and shot himself in the lobby. Lane's family, who asked police for a copy of the tape but were turned down, later saw the shooting online. Now they want to know how the website's owners got the tape.

"At this time we don't know who had possession of the tape," said Charles Robinson, the attorney for Paris Lane's estate. "These are all questions that we will find the answers to, and you can be sure that when we find out who is responsible for it we will hold them accountable."

NYPD investigators have obtained a subpoena that would allow them to find out who operates the website. Meanwhile, the family's attorney says the video has been taken off the Internet.

The Morris Houses are part of the city Housing Authority's VIPER program. The Police Department monitors surveillance cameras in participating developments 24 hours a day in an effort to reduce crime in the projects. The New York Civil Liberties Union is calling on the NYPD to have better supervision over who has access to the tapes.


1 April 2004, New York City, New York: New York Police Seek Leak Of Video. The New York Post.

A confidential police video that shows a young rapper kissing his girlfriend goodbye before blowing his brains out in a Bronx housing project turned up on a porn Web site - and cops have launched a probe to nail the sicko who leaked it. Aspiring hip-hop performer Paris Lane, 22, put the barrel of a 9 mm handgun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a lobby of a building at the Morris Houses after the girl got into the elevator. The horrifying scene, just after midnight on March 16, was captured by a surveillance camera monitored by the NYPD anti-crime VIPER unit. While video images from the cameras are not public, the grisly scenario found its way onto a porn site that features scenes of hardcore sex and violence. It appeared under the twisted title of: "Introducing: The Self-Cleansing Housing Projects." Concerned friends alerted Lane's grieving mom Martha Williams, who went online to see for herself.

"I saw my son and I ran out of the room. I knew it was real . . . I had talked to him the night it happened and said 'I love you' and he said, 'I love you more than life itself,' " Williams told The Post. The victim's sister, Tonya, added: "It's disgusting. Disgusting! How somebody could give this tape out?"

A police official said: "The elevator starts going up and a half-second later he pulls something out of his pocket. You see that it's a gun and he puts it in his mouth and then, 'Boom.'"

The family's lawyer, Charles Robinson, said a VIPER cop or computer technician must have posted the scene. The Internal Affairs Division said it had obtained subpoenas in a bid to find the culprit. Paul Dinin, editor of the Atlanta-based porn site, said he is cooperating with police. Some of the site's fans are "wacky, screwed-up people," he added.

Lane's girlfriend Krystin Simmons, 16, said the former Rice HS honor student who rapped under the name "Para Dice" seemed "down and depressed" and told her "he was moving and he would contact me when he got to his destination." Cops said Lane was despondent over the relationship.


1 April 2004, New York City, New York: Suicide video posted on Web by Sean Gardiner.

Police yesterday said they are conducting an investigation to determine how the footage of a suicide taken two weeks ago by a department surveillance camera ended up on a pornographic Web site. The March 16 suicide of Paris Lane in the elevator of the Morris Houses in the Bronx was captured on one of the 200 closed-circuit cameras set up throughout the housing project. Lane, 22, who police say was despondent because his girlfriend was breaking up with him, killed himself with a 9-mm handgun, according to officials. The Morris Houses is one of 15 city housing projects that is part of the Police Department's Video Interactive Patrol Enhanced Response program, said Paul Browne, a police spokesman.

Two days ago, Lane's foster mother, Martha Williams, learned that his suicide was being watched by many in the neighborhood because a video of it had been posted on the Internet. She went to Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields seeking help.

"She was very upset that this had shown up on a Web site, and a pornographic Web site, no less," said Dan Wilson, Fields' spokesman. "She wanted to get some questions answered."

Browne said that officers from the Internal Affairs Bureau confirmed that the Web site's suicide video appeared to be the surveillance camera footage. That footage is stored on a compact disc, which is still in police possession. Browne said Internal Affairs investigators are trying to ascertain how police property got onto the Web site. According to the Web site, the video was posted at 5:49 a.m. March 28. The video of the suicide has since been removed from the site, a hodgepodge of pornographic and crude pictures and videos and a chat room discussing the images. Most of those who submitted comments about the video argued about its authenticity. However, a writer named "Smitty4699" claimed it was "100 percent real, I submitted it, I know the cop who was at the scene."

Browne said that investigators obtained an administrative subpoena for the Web site yesterday and were attempting to obtain the identity of the site's owner as the first step in trying to discover how the police video footage ended up on it.

"It is bad enough that a family has to bury their child after such a horrible occurrence, but to suffer this kind of indignity is outrageous and deplorable," Fields stated in a news release. "We simply must have answers."


What hypocrits 23.Apr.2004 06:58

NYC Guy

The media is making a big fuss over the tape of a man committing suicide. They are upset that they could not get a hold of the tape for an eleven o'clock news exclusive.