Law Enforcement Tag - ACLU of North Carolina http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/Latest.html Mon, 22 May 2017 13:16:19 -0400 en-gb ACLU: Charlotte Police Must Release All Footage of Keith Lamont Scott Shooting; Disclosed Videos Raise Many Questions http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-charlotte-police-must-release-all-footage-of-keith-lamont-scott-shooting-disclosed-videos-raise-many-questions.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-charlotte-police-must-release-all-footage-of-keith-lamont-scott-shooting-disclosed-videos-raise-many-questions.html

CHARLOTTE – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina joins those calling on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to publicly release all body and dash camera footage, as well as audio dispatch recordings, of the events surrounding the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old man with a traumatic brain injury, who, according to the Guardian’s database The Counted, was the 194th Black person killed by U.S. police this year. 

On Saturday, the department released portions of body and dash camera footage showing the moments immediately before and after police shot and killed Mr. Scott. But the department has not released all the video footage of the moments leading up to and following the encounter, leaving many questions still unanswered.

Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, released the following statement:

“The videos released this weekend raise a host of questions about why police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, and whether, in doing so, the officers involved violated state or federal law, in addition to failing to follow the department’s own rules regarding the use of deadly force, de-escalation, when to wear and activate body cameras, and more.

“In the interest of full transparency, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police must stop releasing information to the public on a piecemeal basis and disclose all remaining body and dash camera footage, as well as audio of dispatch recordings, of the moments before and after Mr. Scott was killed. The public and Mr. Scott’s family deserve to see and hear all available information about whether something was in his hand and why a man who was suspected of no crime, other than the newly disclosed accusation that he possessed a minor amount of marijuana, is now dead.”

On the use of force:

“Although we don’t yet have statistics on the number of people with disabilities killed by U.S. police, Mr. Scott certainly was not the first. The videos we have seen so far of his last moments raise serious questions about why officers were so quick to use deadly force rather than any number of other tactics that could have de-escalated their encounter with a man who lived with a mental disability. In several videos, Mr. Scott’s wife can be heard telling officers that Mr. Scott has a ‘T.B.I.’ (traumatic brain injury) and had just taken his medicine.

“In 2015, the Charlotte City Council unanimously passed a civil liberties resolution that included directives for how officers should interact with members of the public, including those with disabilities, and how to de-escalate potentially violent situations. The available information suggests that the officers who encountered Mr. Scott did not abide by those directives, and calls into question whether the Charlotte Police Department has adequately trained any of its officers to respond effectively to such situations.”                                   

On officer use of body cameras:

“We also have questions about why the officer who killed Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera, as CMPD’s own policy states that ‘recordings shall occur prior to or in anticipation of an arrest’ and also apply to ‘suspicious vehicles or persons.’ 

“Missing audio at the beginning of the video from the officer who was wearing a body camera indicates that the officer in question did not turn on his camera when the department’s policy required him to do so. Because officers were engaging a person who they claimed was suspicious, and reportedly even left the scene temporarily to outfit themselves with additional gear, body cameras should have been turned on earlier so there would be full audio and visual accounts of what happened.

“Last year, Chief Putney announced plans to phase out dash cameras, citing their cost and the implementation of officer worn body cameras. The fact that a dash camera – and not a body camera – seems to have captured the clearest vantage of Mr. Scott’s shooting shows that dash cameras remain vitally important and the department must retain them.

“CMPD must release whatever audio and video footage remains of the shooting of Mr. Scott now. The department must not simply run out the clock on the new law that will block the public from seeing body camera footage without a court order. CMPD should do the right thing and release all the footage.”

Background

As of October 1, a new North Carolina law, HB 972, will prevent law enforcement agencies from releasing body camera footage in the public interest without a court order. Under the law, which the ACLU has opposed, people captured on video by body cameras would also be barred from having a copy of the footage unless they successfully obtained a court order.   

 

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legal News Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:43:40 -0400
Gov. McCrory Signs Bill that Keeps Police Camera Footage Secret http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/gov-mccrory-signs-bill-that-keeps-police-camera-footage-secret.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/gov-mccrory-signs-bill-that-keeps-police-camera-footage-secret.html

RALEIGH – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory today signed into law HB 972, which allows law enforcement agencies to keep officer worn body camera footage from the public unless ordered to release the footage by a court.

“Body cameras should be a tool to make law enforcement more transparent and accountable to the communities they serve, but this shameful law will make it nearly impossible to achieve those goals,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “People who are filmed by police body cameras should not have to spend time and money to go to court in order to see that footage. These barriers are significant and we expect them to drastically reduce any potential this technology had to make law enforcement more accountable to community members.”

Under the new law, body camera and dash camera footage are not public record. Law enforcement agencies have the discretion to release footage to people who are recorded, but if the agency denies a request to disclose the footage, the recorded individual must bring a claim in court to attempt to obtain the footage. There is no mechanism for law enforcement to release videos of public interest to the general public other than through a court order.

The ACLU of North Carolina has a free smartphone app, Mobile Justice NC, that empowers users to record encounters with police and send the footage to the ACLU of North Carolina for review. It is available on iPhones and Androids. More information is at acluofnc.org/app 

“We will continue to stand up for the most vulnerable in our communities and ask any person who has trouble obtaining or viewing body cam footage recorded by police to contact us,” Birdsong said.

 

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legislative News Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:21:11 -0400
Police Camera Footage to be Kept Secret Under Bill Heading to N.C. Governor http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/police-camera-footage-to-be-kept-secret-under-bill-heading-to-n-c-governor.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/police-camera-footage-to-be-kept-secret-under-bill-heading-to-n-c-governor.html

RALEIGH – A bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to shield officer worn body camera footage from the public unless ordered to release the footage by a court was passed by the North Carolina Senate and House today and sent to Governor Pat McCrory for his signature or veto.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, which has advised many local law enforcement agencies on their body camera policies, opposes HB 972 and is urging the governor to veto the bill.  

“This bill is an affront to transparency and we are urging Governor McCrory to veto it,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “Giving law enforcement such broad authority to keep video footage secret – even from individuals who are filmed – will damage law enforcement’s ability to build trust with the public and destroy any potential this technology had to make officers more accountable to the communities they serve. People who are filmed by police body cameras should not have to spend time and money to go to court in order to obtain access to that footage.”

Under HB 972, body camera and dash camera footage would not be a public record. Law enforcement agencies would have the discretion to release footage to people who are recorded, but if the agency denies a request to release the footage, the recorded individual would have to bring a claim in court to attempt to obtain the footage. There would be no mechanism for law enforcement to release videos of public interest to the general public other than through a court order.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are using or have plans to acquire police body cameras, but many lack policies that allow public access to the recordings.

Before sending the bill to Governor McCrory, lawmakers attached language that will allow organizations to operate needle and hypodermic syringe exchange programs.

“It’s unfortunate that lawmakers have attached this sensible measure to promote public health to such a problematic and damaging bill,” Birdsong said.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legislative News Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:21:58 -0400
N.C. Bill to Keep Police Camera Footage Secret Passes House http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/n-c-bill-to-keep-police-camera-footage-secret-passes-house.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/n-c-bill-to-keep-police-camera-footage-secret-passes-house.html

RALEIGH – A bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to shield officer worn body camera footage from public view unless ordered to release the footage by a court was approved by the North Carolina House tonight.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, which has advised many local law enforcement agencies on their body camera policies, opposes HB 972. 

“Body cameras are supposed to represent a step forward for transparency, but this bill would be a step backward by empowering police to keep video footage secret—even from individuals who are filmed,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “At a minimum, people who are filmed by police body cameras should be able to obtain that footage.  Instead, HB 972 would force people to go to court to obtain footage, a process most simply can’t afford. This bill would also deny local governments the ability to determine if footage does in fact need to be released in order to maintain public confidence, something they have the ability to do under current law.”

Under HB 972, body camera and dash camera footage would not be a public record. Law enforcement agencies would have the discretion to disclose footage to people who are recorded, but if the agency denies a request to disclose the footage, the recorded individual would have to bring a claim in court to attempt to obtain it. There would be no mechanism for law enforcement to release videos of public interest to the general public other than through a court order.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are using or have plans to acquire police body cameras, but many lack policies that allow public access to the recordings.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legislative News Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:17:59 -0400