IA: Dashcam video not conclusive evidence of justification for stop

The dashcam video of defendant’s stop wasn’t all that clear, and the trial court credited the officer’s testimony defendant drove some on the wrong side of the road at night in snowy conditions. That’s entitled to deference, as are reasonable mistakes of fact. State v. Despenas, 2023 Iowa App. LEXIS 203 (Mar. 8, 2023):

Like the parties, we must address the role of the dash cam video. Granted, sometimes a video can “speak for itself.” See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 n.5, 127 S. Ct. 1769, 167 L. Ed. 2d 686 (2007). But here, the dash cam footage speaks in riddles. See State v. Dexter, 807 N.W.2d 158, 2011 WL 3925478, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). Only the first ten seconds allegedly show Despenas on the wrong side of the highway. As his truck moves farther away from the camera, the parallel lanes seem to converge at their vanishing point. Given the distance and distorting perspective—along with the snowy, dark conditions and grainy footage—we cannot discern Despenas’s location from the video. In other words, the video neither confirms nor contradicts Scott’s testimony. But video evidence is only one factor we evaluate. State v. Mohr, No. 19-0070, 943 N.W.2d 72, 2020 WL 564907, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 5, 2020).

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