A police video leaked on social media shows the murder of 24-year-old Brittany Hill while she shielded her baby from gunfire. Hill was exiting her sedan when a silver Chevy Impala pulled up alongside her, the occupants exited the car and then proceeded to open fire. The video was taken from a nearby surveillance camera. Hill was taken to West Suburban Hospital and later pronounced dead.
Two men have been charged in the shooting death.
While the police are calling the video’s release “unauthorized,” there are a number of reasons why a leak like this jeopardizes the men’s chance at a fair trial and benefit the prosecution’s case against them. The police claim that they have opened an investigation to determine the source of the leak.
Law Enforcement Claims Leak “Complicates the Prosecution”
There are only two potential sources for the leak — the Chicago Police Department or the state’s attorney’s office. Neither seems likely to endanger the prosecution’s case against the two aforementioned suspects. Nonetheless, authorities are claiming that the release of the video will somehow imperil their case.
That seems unlikely. Much more likely, is that it will hinder the two defendant’s ability to get a fair trial. The video itself shows a shocking shooting and a mother who sacrificed her own life to save her child’s. That will provoke a very large emotional reaction in any jury pool. Now, any jury pool has likely been tainted by the release of the video.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the two men charged with this terrible crime are the only names associated with it.
Will the Investigation Turn Up a Name?
It is hard to say whether or not the investigation will, in fact, reveal who leaked the video. It is hard to say whether or not the Chicago PD will investigate deeply into this matter. If the prosecution’s case against the two suspects is strong, then the release of the video does throw a wrench into their plans. A defense attorney could move to suppress the tape or prevent the tape from being shown at trial.
In that case, evidence gleaned from the tape could still be entered. Police would still be able to show a gunman and the car they drove without necessarily playing the video. It’s difficult to determine, however, if that would have a significant impact on the quality of the prosecution’s case.
Here, the video is useful only insofar as its emotional shock value. Evidence tying the two defendants to the murder would not require the video to be played. In other words, a defense attorney could move to suppress the video evidence on that fact alone regardless of whether or not it had been leaked.
But the case is still developing and it is too early to tell the quality of the evidence against the defendants. There is no known motive for the murder nor is there any indication why the young mother was targeted in what appears to be a professional or semi-professional murder.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer
David Freidberg, Attorney at Law, represents defendants in criminal cases in the Chicago area. If you have been charged with a crime, give his office a call at (312) 560-7100 and we can discuss your options.
(image courtesy of Mingyue Sun)