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As body cameras become commonplace, debate over when to release footage

The day after Daunte Wright was fatally shot by a policeman at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11, in the middle of the murder trial against the former Minneapolis cop who killed George Floyd, the officials chose to quickly release some of the body camera images. Video shows the officer, who has since resigned and been charged with second degree manslaughter, shouting “Taser”, suggesting she mistook one gun for another. The early release, which was not required by law, came after a night of particularly intense protests, in which police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

When 16-year-old Ms Bryant, who according to the body camera video was brandishing a knife and threatening two girls, was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus on April 20, the Columbus Police Division released a video about five hours away. later, as protesters gathered at the scene.

“We wanted to get this out as soon as possible,” said Michael Woods, Columbus’ acting police chief, although he was not required by law to do it quickly.

Before North Carolina passed its body camera law in 2016, state law enforcement agencies operated by their own rules. But the murder of Mr. Brown, who like Mrs. Bryant and Mr. Wright was black, renewed calls for a change in the law.

“I think it should be a public recording,” said Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat from North Carolina, referring to the body camera footage. “And there should be a date that the public knows there will be access to. And the onus should be on law enforcement to go to court to request a temporary stay for investigation. “

This week, State Representative Amos Quick, a Democrat, introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would require law enforcement agencies to post body camera recordings within 48 hours, and give to the police a chance to appear before a judge to argue that the release would, among other things, compromise the safety of a person or hinder an investigation. (A similar bill is pending in the State Senate).

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