Police believe public has no right to see videos that might reveal police misconduct
I can understand why the police would not want the public to view videos that reveal misconduct and fight to keep such evidence secret, I don’t see why the police should be allowed to get away with that.
German Lopez has an interesting article at Vox.com:
There were two high-profile police shootings in the past week — and police’s responses to them could not have been more different.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old black man. Shortly after the shooting, police released all available video that they had — promising to get to the bottom of what happened in an investigation.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man police claim was armed and brandishing a gun. There is video — police have said that the officer who fired the fatal shot didn’t have a body camera, but other officers on the scene did, and there may be dashboard camera footage. But police said they won’t release the video, as it’s currently under review and part of an ongoing investigation.
It’s a startling difference in transparency and accountability: Police in Tulsa quickly released all the video they had, while police in Charlotte may not ever (willingly) put out video.
One reason for the difference: North Carolina law. Earlier in July, Republican Gov. Pat McCrorysigned a controversial measure that prevents law enforcement agencies from releasing video footage without a court order. The law doesn’t take effect until October, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney cited the law in his defense for not releasing the video.
The law, McCrory previously argued, is needed to preserve public safety and the integrity of investigations. One major concern for law enforcement is that released video footage could let witnesses verify and change their testimonies to match what’s on video, making it more difficult to discern who’s a trustworthy eyewitness and who isn’t.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel put this argument best after the police shooting of Sylville Smith in Milwaukee: Releasing video prior to an investigation’s completion “would compromise the integrity of the investigation,” he said. “It is sometimes necessary to confront witnesses with information they didn’t know or they didn’t know we know. I cannot have witness statements colored or tainted by what they are seeing from other sources.”
But the North Carolina law also shows the limits of body cameras for holding police accountable: As promising as the devices may seem, how much of an impact they have largely depends on who controls the footage. . .
Continue reading. Video at the link.