Former police officer Mark Torre Jr.’s attorney Jay Arriola wants the body cam worn by a police officer the night of the shooting suppressed.
Guam – Former Police Officer Mark Torre Jr., accused of shooting to death fellow police officer Sgt. Elbert Piolo, is due back in court tomorrow where lawyers will argue over the use of a body cam footage as evidence for the trial.
What’s seen and heard in the footage could make or break the case.
It all boils down to Miranda Rights. Whether or not Former Police Officer Mark Torre Jr. was considered in custody or a suspect during the time that a body cam was rolling.
This is what prosecutors and defense attorneys will be arguing tomorrow. The footage was taken just minutes after the 911 call was made. It was being worn by Officer John Edwards, who prosecutor Phil Tydingco says was a friend of Torre Jr. Defense Attorney Jay Arriola wants the body cam footage suppressed because he says Torre Jr. was considered in custody at the time the video was taken but his Miranda Rights weren’t given. Therefore, he argues, the evidence is inadmissible.
“Considering the totality of the circumstances—that a police officer had suffered a gunshot wound, that Defendant Torre was identified as the person who shot him, that Torre was made to sit on the bed of a truck, that Torre was surrounded by police tape and police officers—a reasonable person would have believed he was not free to leave,” Arriola argues.
But Chief Prosecutor Tydingco says Torre was not considered in custody at the time. In fact, Tydingco says despite Arriola’s belief that officers at the scene came to a consensus that Torre Jr. was responsible for the shooting, the evidence on the body camera suggests that at that time, officers were under the impression that a third person might have been involved.
“Edwards asks Torre Jr. about the incident and when Torre Jr. indicates that Piolo may have shot himself after a fight with a girlfriend, Edwards appears to take him at his word and relays this statement to several other persons present,” Tydingco writes, adding “Officers confer about whether Piolo, Torre Jr. or an unknown third person fired the weapon which killed Piolo.”
Still, Arriola argues that anyone under those circumstances would have believed they were in custody and were not free to just leave. Arriola says at one point police officers were seen on the camera repeatedly pushing Torre’s arms back to his side and placing their hands on Torre’s shoulder.
Tydingco says that was not a sign of restraint, rather it was Officer Edwards comforting his friend who appeared to be hyperventilating and emotional. Tydingco also argues that at the very least even if the judge rules that Torre’s Miranda Rights were violated, the video contains non-testimonial evidence that should not be suppressed.
Tomorrow’s hearing will be held in Judge Michael Bordallo at 9 am.