First Look

Army Ranger uses GoPro in domestic violence case: A new line of defense?

A US Army Ranger, who was worried his domestic abuse claims would be ignored, wore a GoPro camera on his belt to record an attack by his estranged wife. A new tool in fighting domestic violence?

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Portable GoPro cameras have recently been used by more than just extreme athletes and drones. In a number of cases, GoPros – or other video cameras – have been used as a new line of defense in domestic violence cases.

In Dunedin, Fla., last week, Mike Novak, an Army Ranger, strapped a GoPro to his belt to capture his estranged wife’s behavior. Mr. Novak says he resorted to recording his wife because of false allegations in the past. “The main point of using the camera was to prove what she was doing, paint an accurate picture because the camera doesn’t lie,” Novak told News Channel 8.

In the video, Novak tells his estranged wife that he is going to call the police because of her behavior and she responds, “Call the police. I’m going to tell them that you just assaulted me…Call them right now.”

Novak did in fact call the police, but he was armed with video evidence. 

A Pinellas County deputy viewed the footage from Novak’s GoPro, and arrested Corinne Novak on Sept. 17. Ms. Novak was charged with one count of domestic battery and she is in Pinellas County Jail awaiting trial.

And this is not the first time video evidence has solved cases of domestic violence.

In a separate case last year, Michael Gregory from the Isle of Wright was sentenced to ten years in prison for assaulting his partner Gale Marmoy after police officers’ body-worn video cameras captured the scene. 

“People don’t realize how bad these things are, but with that footage, they can see how bad it was,” Ms. Marmoy explains to the Daily Mirror. “A picture does tell a story, but actually watching it, they can see that I was totally confused…what you don’t get from a photograph.”

In yet another case last year, internet advertising CEO Gurbaksh Chahal faced 45 felony charges in March after a security video from Chahal’s home documented a serious physical attack on his girlfriend.

Officers illegally seized and removed camera footage from Mr. Chahal’s bedroom before obtaining a warrant to search the contents, making the footage insubmissable in court. “Though this is not the outcome we had hoped for,” Alex Bastian, spokesman for San Fransico District Attorney George Gascón, said in a statement, “the case has reached a resolution where the defendant acknowledges guilt, is placed on domestic violence probation and has to take domestic violence classes.” 

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