Video evidence was the “star witness” in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin as well as the Friday grand jury indictment of him and three of his colleagues. Police body cameras, dashboard cameras, surveillance cameras and a video taken by an eyewitness on a smartphone were crucial to both Chauvin’s murder conviction and the indictments.

Sandra Ristovska of the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been studying the use of video evidence for the past eight years. She uses the 1991 case of Rodney King, in which police officers were acquitted despite video evidence that showed them beating King, to explain how judges, attorneys and jurors may interpret what they see very differently. In other words, seeing is not always believing, she writes.

Also today:

Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor

Video evidence at trial played a crucial part in the conviction of a police officer for the 2020 murder of George Floyd. AP Photo/Ben Gray

From Rodney King to George Floyd, how video evidence can be differently interpreted in courts

Sandra Ristovska, University of Colorado Boulder

Video evidence can be powerful at a trial – but it does not always lead to a fair rendering of justice.

Environment + Energy

  • Water wells are at risk of going dry in the US and worldwide

    Debra Perrone, University of California Santa Barbara; Scott Jasechko, University of California Santa Barbara

    The US has one of the highest groundwater use rates in the world. When wells run dry, households may opt to conserve water, find new sources or sell and move.

Science + Technology


  • 4 reasons business school faculty lack diversity

    Sonya A. Grier, American University Kogod School of Business

    Professors of color are few and far between at America's business schools. Hidden obstacles in the search process help explain why.

Politics + Society

Economy + Business


  • How much sleep do you really need?

    Dana McMakin, Florida International University

    Getting a good night's sleep on a regular basis can help you do well in school or at work. It might even make you better-looking.

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