By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Philando Castile was shot at about 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

By midnight, #FalconHeightsShooting was trending on Facebook and Twitter.

READ MORE: Lake City Man Found Safe After Missing For Several Days

Five years ago, the widespread reactions would not have happened so quickly.

Less than nine hours after the shooting, many people had already formed strong opinions about what happened.

“The way the public perceives an event is often shaped by the first things that hit social media,” said Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor and professor of law at the University of St. Thomas. “Those are playing an outsized role in terms of defining the public debate.”

Two major events have changed the intersection of video and police work: Rodney King and the introduction of the smartphone.

With the recent advent of streaming video applications like Facebook Live, the video can now reach people even faster.

READ MORE: Pedestrian Killed In Blaine Crash

Osler says video of police officers can offer narratives that might have been ignored in the past.

“If she would have a different story about what happened, the police might have a different story,” Osler said. “And in the public eye, we’d have those two held up, and people would tend to believe the police. Now what we have is corroborating evidence going one way or the other.”

He considers video a net positive, but says it can offer an incomplete and misleading picture of exactly what happened.

Chaska Police Chief Scott Knight does not know if smartphones and social media have changed officers’ day-to-day work, but he says they are more cognizant that there is a record of their actions.

Knight says their impact could be positive depending on how that record is viewed.

“If someone were to take one video and decide what happened, that can be bad for everyone involved,” Knight said.

MORE NEWS: St. Louis County Attorney's Office Takes Proctor High School Hazing Case

Related Stories
Video Of Philando Castile’s Shooting Death Shocks The World
Family Of Philando Castile Devastated By Shooting Death
Video: Police Administer CPR To Philando Castile
Dayton: Castile Wouldn’t Have Been Shot If He Were White
Justice Dept. Monitoring BCA Investigation Of Castile Shooting
Transcript Of Facebook Video In Philando Castile Shooting
ACLU Doesn’t Want BCA Involved In Philando Castile Investigation
Obama ‘Deeply Disturbed’ Over Minnesota, Baton Rouge Shootings
‘Life Cut Down Too Soon’: Hillary Clinton On Philando Castile Shooting
Girlfriend Of Man Fatally Shot By Police Speaks At Protest
Celebrities Respond To Fatal Shooting Of Philando Castile

Heather Brown