Helping police solve crimes through images - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Helping police solve crimes through images

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You've seen surveillance video countless times on 13News.

"The most common way that we ask for help from the public is to release video whether it be surveillance video or images that may have been captured when a crime was taking place," said Lt. Steve Cooper, with Charleston Police Dept.

Mug shots, line-ups, and surveillance videos. Law enforcement agencies use them all, plus the help of the public to solve crimes. And investigators said what you know helps them close cases.

"A lot of what we get is suspect identification by someone who knows that person," Cooper said.

But some people said they doubt the reliability of eyewitness accounts.

"People get upset and... they will miss the salient factors, including race or what they've been wearing," said forensic psychologist Dr. David Clayman.

Clayman said the human mind is wired for human errors.

"When people are actually shown they are wrong, they will hold onto their opinion because people have confidence in their inaccurate perceptions to the point where they distort their own realities."

The Kennedys know the difficulty that comes with identifying a suspect. They claimed they saw someone try to break-in to their car last weekend, and then filed a police report.

"I didn't really remember much except for the color of his clothes," said Sarah Kennedy, of Charleston. "It was only 15 seconds and it was over."

"I would trust DNA evidence more than human memory," said Joshua Kennedy." I know myself I don't have a great memory for detail."

Cooper said that doubt prompts investigators to cross check evidence and testimony.

Earlier this month, Charleston police arrested the wrong suspect after a stabbing in front of the Impulse nightclub in downtown Charleston.

Cooper said three people all chose the wrong person in a line-up.

Officers released that initial suspect and arrested Aris Hairston within the next 24 hours.

Police said Hairston turned himself in and admitted to the crime.