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Assault Video May Seem Damning, But It Is Not The Whole Story

If you were watching the Jets-Bills game Sunday, you might have been as intrigued by an event that took place in the stands as you were in what happened on the field.

As has been widely reported on NJ.com and elsewhere, there was a bit of a dust-up between two fans from the opposing teams. The altercation, which was caught on video by witnesses and by still photographers, too, apparently resulted in the Bills fan being knocked unconscious. It also reportedly resulted in the arrest of the Jets fan on an assault charge.

On its face it might seem that this is a slam dunk case. The video, which is now wending its way virally across the Internet, seems to leave very little to question. It shows the Jets fan throwing a punch and the Bills fan crumpling forward over the row of seats in front of him.

Afterward, witnesses say the Jets fan started to exit MetLife Stadium, but New Jersey State Police say troopers were able to stop and arrest him before he left the premises. PIX11-TV says credit for the fast police action has been given to the stadium’s “state-of-the-art surveillance system” which supposedly delivers uninterrupted video coverage throughout the arena.

High quality video surveillance that is available today is amazing technology, to be sure. But clarity of image shouldn’t be taken to suggest that there can be no doubt about what is being seen. Video alone does not capture all the nuances of what actually took place. Audio is an essential part of the scene but very often isn’t captured. So, if video evidence alone is going to be used to support a serious violent crime charge such as assault, it is likely worth challenging.

In the case we write about here, at least one witness reported that the Bills fan had been “shooting off his mouth off” before the punch was thrown. What was said? Might it serve to provide some level of justification? These are questions that should be raised as part of a robust defense strategy.

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