Police Dispatch Tape as Evidence

In People v. Mitchell (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1210, the prosecution played the police dispatch tape recording from two crimes, a robbery and a carjacking. The voices of police officers on the ground, the police air support officer, and the police dispatcher were predominant on the tape. Not all of them testified at trial. The defendant objected, stating the dispatch tape suggested that one person committed both crimes, and the dispatcher linked him to both. (Id. at pp. 1217-1219.) The tape, itself, was admitted as a business record, and the trial court gave a very specific limiting instruction to the jury. (Id. at pp. 1220, 1222.) The court found that any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, reasoning: "Even assuming the dispatcher's comments on the tape or some of the officers' comments were based on statements witnesses made to them and conceivably could be construed as testimonial within the meaning of Crawford, we would nevertheless find those comments were incidental and harmless beyond a reasonable doubt." (Id. at p. 1225.)