If what they say is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then an entire video must be worth tens of thousands of words – or at least enough to prove one man’s innocence in a court of law. Just ask Abdi Sheik-Qasim, a man accused of accosting two Toronto policemen. The video was enough to convince the judge to rule that the two policemen had actually assaulted Sheik-Qasim. Sheik-Qasim, 32, said in an interview, “It saved my life, or at least a lot of headaches. Without it, “I would have probably been in jail right now.” The twist in this story is that the evidence almost never made it into the courtroom.
When the police arrived at the apartment of Sheik-Qasim’s uncle to investigate a noise complaint, he explained that his uncle had stepped out and the music had been turned down. After supplying the police with his ID, they ran Sheik-Qasim’s name through the system and he was not wanted on any outstanding warrants. Sheik-Qasim became frustrated when the police wanted to enter the apartment, so he turned on his Android smartphone to record the situation. One of the policemen slapped the phone out of his hand, but it kept recording the incident – however, the phone mysteriously disappeared and Ontario Court Justice Edward Kelly found that very disturbing.
At the trial, both officers testified that Sheik-Qasim initiated the physical contact by reaching for one of the officer’s utility belt and the officer simply reacted. However, what they did not know was that Sheik-Qasim had enabled his phone to automatically upload his Google Photos…which includes the videos…to the cloud. Once they were able to get a hold of the uploaded video, the courts were able to see and hear what really happened that day. Kelly said, “Officer Dhaliwal’s swing of his arm and hand was the very first physical force during the interaction. The accused didn’t grab a hold of the belt of Officer Gul in advance of this action by Officer Dhaliwal. I believe that Officer Dhaliwal’s action amounted to an assault against the accused,” Kelly said in a decision issued Sept. 10, acquitting Sheik-Qasim of both charges.
The officers are now being investigated by the department and, although there was no proof, Kelly said that he had many doubts about the officer’s account of what happened at the apartment and what happened to the smartphone. Alison Craig, Sheik-Qasim’s lawyer, said, “My concern is that it happens with far more regularity than is ever uncovered. If it wasn’t for the video, I think there is a very strong likelihood he would have been convicted.” Android users may want to turn-on the option for Google Photos to automatically upload your data…it could be a real lifesaver in the future as Google keeps adding features to Photos.