A man called the police, claiming that he was put down to the ground by the company's staff inside a company's building. No one is directly witnessing the action but one surveillance camera, which belongs to the company.

The senior manager comes out and make sure that everyone on the floor, including a few other clients, tells the police that no one put down anyone.

The policemen come and asked several witnesses. Some company's members reported that the man fell down by himself. Other clients say that they were far away from the man and did not see anything. The police quickly concluded that no violence has occurred and the man fell down by himself. The man claims otherwise, asking several times that the police need to check the camera. The police refused, saying the the man cannot see the video recording. The man asked the policemen to check the camera themselves, but the policemen did not directly response to that request.

The content of the recording was not on the final report.

My question: is trusting the witnesses instead of camera recording legal in North America?

1 Answer 1


There's no legal requirement in Canada or US that the police do anything to investigate a crime, so there's no requirement that they do anything specific to investigate a crime. If the police officers are satisfied by the witness accounts, or have some reason to think viewing surveillance recording wouldn't be useful they don't have to, either by law or policy.

Note that ordinarily, police won't consider a physical altercation between two grown men a serious enough crime to warrant charges. If there was no serious injury and there wasn't a large discrepancy between the strength of the two men, police will often decline to lay charges even when they believe the evidence would sustain them. In this case the police may have decided it wasn't worth investigating further because it wasn't worth wasting the time of an already overloaded court system.

The victim here still has legal options despite the lack action by the police. He can subpoena the video evidence if he wants to bring lawsuit for damages. In Canada, it's possible even to lay your own criminal charges in a private prosecution, although this much more expensive than a civil lawsuit.

  • Re: last paragraph. The camera belongs to the company and the company expelled that poor man. He has no option unless the police forcefully get the recording...
    – High GPA
    Aug 29, 2020 at 2:12
  • The answer says exactly the opposite. Your comment is simply not true.
    – user4657
    Aug 29, 2020 at 2:16
  • @Nij If you are the manager who went as far as persuading witnesses to make (slightly) false claims, will you not destroy the video evidence before the court orders it?
    – High GPA
    Aug 29, 2020 at 2:19
  • 1
    @HighGPA He can ask a court to issue an order forcing the company turn over the evidence. The police would need a court order themselves to take it forcefully. If the manager destroys the evidence then the court will assume whatever the victim says the was recorded on the tape is true.
    – Ross Ridge
    Aug 29, 2020 at 2:22
  • 2
    @HighGPA If the court determines that evidence was destroyed then it will weigh what it assumes was recorded against the witnesses' testimony in court and decide which is more credible. If the video recording had been introduced as evidence and would have convinced the court that witnesses weren't telling the truth then so would the absence of a destroyed recording.
    – Ross Ridge
    Aug 29, 2020 at 2:32

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