Special report: how everyday video can be crucial to prosecuting cases
FORT MYERS, Fla. - They're some of the freakiest fights in southwest Florida. Evidence captured with a cell phone and instrumental to winning cases. A lesson for anyone that a camera could be watching you at any moment.
They're some of the craziest, wildest videos you may have never seen.
In some exclusive video from the State Attorney's Office, one shows brothers brawling over a stolen, pink credit card at a bar. In another, two air boat captains battled the Everglades.
Fox 4 went through videos that even surprised prosecutors.
"It makes it a lot easier to prosecute, most of the time when the video's clear," said Samantha Syoen, the communications director for the State Attorney's Office. "[They show] who did what. It's watching the crime happen."
Legal teams watched the Naples fight involving the two brothers as it unfolded. All because a friend in the car had his cell phone camera rolling the entire time.
It's vital evidence that landed Richard Kaad behind bars.
"The person we prosecuted got nine years in prison," added Syoen.
And air boat captain, Javier Lescano, was arrested and fined $200. His actions were caught by a tourist with a handy cam.
"It helped tremendously," explained Syoen. "You could see who threw a punch and how it happened."
Right down to what sparked the fight. When an air boat drove too close to the other. It splashed passengers and angered the captain.
And what's remarkable is it's video anyone can take.
"How would you say this compares to 10 years ago?" asked Fox 4 reporter Gabrielle Sarann to Syoen. "It's changed completely, especially now that things are so mobile," she replied. "Ten years ago, maybe you had a video camera at home, you pull it out for home movies and a family reunion. But now everyone has a little device in their hands to record audio and they could record video at the drop of a hat."
But when everyone's a videographer, how does the defense build a case when the evidence seems clear?
"You might see somebody's reaction to an initial event that's not captured on video," explained Rene Suarez, a defense attorney with Brown, Suarez & Rios, P.A.
Suarez says what leads to a crime can be just as important as the crime itself. Critical moments often not caught on tape.
"It might look like somebody is the aggressor because they were the aggressor at the time the video was taken," said Suarez. "But it doesn't show you what happened before that maybe paints that supposed aggressor in a different light."
But as the state shared, it's everyday video that gives us front seats to some colorful conflicts.
"You never know when you're on audio and so it's really interesting with cases," concluded Syoen. "This is a whole new level of evidence."