Posted: Dec 5, 2012 6:18 PM
Updated: Dec 6, 2012 12:39 AM
McALLEN - Technology went on trial Wednesday during an attempted murder court case in McAllen.
The dash camera video of a shooting involving Hidalgo County Sheriff's deputies and an alleged Gulf cartel member raised questions about the technology the county uses. The video was recorded on a VHS tape.
Prosecutors on Tuesday presented the video showing a suspect opening fire on Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies. The footage was shown during Jose Luis Alavarez's trial on attempted capital murder, kidnapping and drug charges.
The video shows Alvarez standing behind a truck when his passenger, Daniel Hernandez Perez, exits the truck and opens fire, point-blank on one of the deputies. The shooting happened in October, 2011.
Alvarez's defense said he did not shoot at the deputies and should not be blamed for someone else's actions.
Prosecutors said the pair was working under Gulf cartel orders.
The video shows Alvarez speaking calmly with one of the deputies as the other deputy approaches the passenger door.
Moments later, Hernandez opens the door and fires, point-blank, on Deputy Hugo Rodriguez.
The video shows Rodriguez collapsing after the shots. Officials said the rounds hit his bullet-proof vest.
Hernandez then turns and runs toward the other deputy and opens fire. The suspect turns back as the deputy returns fire. Rodriguez also fired as he was on the ground.
Alvarez and Hernandez were both hit in the volley of bullets. Hernandez died.
The problem with the video is that it doesn't show the entire incident and the audio is not discernible.
"The microphones were turned off," Noel Harold said. He is an expert with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"You also say that the tape recorder itself was poorly maintained," Alvarez's Attorney Mauro Barreiro said.
The problem with the VHS tapes is that they are not reliable, Harold said.
"No system is free of tampering," he said.
An investigation of the VHS tape used to record the shooting revealed that it had been overused.
"It's very thin and even more subject to damage. A tape like that, if it's played many times or recorded many times in very high temperature condition, the tape is going to manifest a lot of damage as you can see," Harold said.
"The VHS is obviously an old piece of equipment. It's still being used and there is still many factory VHS tapes," Harold said.
The FBI laboratory in Virginia tried to fix the recording, but they couldn't recover the sound.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said he could not comment until the trial is over.
County information revealed that 80 percent of the Sheriff's department vehicles are equipped cameras recording on hard drives. The rest still rely on old technology. It will cost about $175,000 to upgrade those units, county records show.