Video of Erie, PA Cop Mocking Homicide Victim Appears on YouTube. Erie PD Launches Investigation . . . To Find the Identity of the Person Who Posted It


A video of Erie, Pennsylvania police officer James Cousins II mocking a homicide victim and the reaction of the victim's mother upon her arrival at the crime scene recently appeared on YouTube. Cousins was off-duty and drinking at a bar when the video was taken.

It's pretty tasteless. But to be honest, I'm not sure it's really much to get upset about. Cops do have stressful jobs, and I'm not about to begrudge them the right to blow off steam around friends when they're off-duty, though Cousins' boasting about punching and Tasering a suspect in another case, also depicted in the video, is more problematic.

That said, it was pretty dumb of him to go as he did on while he was being recorded. And like anyone else who gets caught saying something stupid on camera, he should have to pay the personal and professional consequences for what he said.

But Cousins is a police officer, and he and his colleagues have the power to intimidate people who expose their mistakes. The real outrage in this story is what happened next.

Once the video was posted to YouTube, internal affairs investigator Jim DeDionisio went to confront the man who posted the video, and brought Cousins with him. Thinking they had found the man, they confronted him at his job on a construction site (it turns out that the guy's brother actually posted the video). The man says DeDionisio then threatened to prosecute him for violating federal wiretapping laws. If true, that's a preposterous attempt at intimidation. Erie police officials then apparently tried to get the local district attorney to order YouTube to remove the video. To the prosecutor's credit, he refused.

So you have a police officer making inappropriate, insensitive comments about a murder victim and his mother in a video that eventually gets posted to YouTube. The immediate reaction from the Erie Police Department is to launch an investigation, but not into the officer's conduct, but to find the identity of the person who posted the video. Their next step is to bring the officer depicted in the video to intimidate the man they believe posted it. And they top it off with a bogus threat and failed effort to have the video removed from the Internet.

Pretty deplorable behavior all around.