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“Enhancing” a Video

Last month, a woman named Mai Thi Nguyen was killed here in New Orleans as she worked behind the counter at a grocery store. It was an attempted robbery that turned into a senseless murder.

Three men were arrested. One of the men was released two weeks ago. The judge said the surveillance tapes and the eyewitness testimony indicated that he was just an innocent bystander.

Yesterday the District Attorney’s Chief Homicide Investigator came to my office with those surveillance tapes. The Campus Police Chief asked me to help him “enhance” the video. They seem to believe the tapes show the man was an accomplice to the crime, a lookout for the two masked robbers.

So I’ve been watching video of this stupid, horrific crime over and over. The first thing that impressed me was how quick it happens. The robbers enter the store, demand money, shoot the woman, and flee; this takes a total of ten seconds.

As for the man who was released — is he innocent, or was he in on it? The case seems pretty weak to me. It boils down to a couple of ambiguous gestures: a raised hand, a turned head. (I’m highlighting these gestures, zooming in on them, slowing the video down.) I think he’s probably innocent. I don’t feel good about doing this work, but then again I don’t think it will have much effect. I don’t think the judge will change his mind on the basis of this “enhanced” video.

Published inNew Orleans

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