On October 1, 2016 a newly signed law will be put into effect in North Carolina that states that any footage from police body cams will not be released to the public without a court order. Family members of those in any involved cases may view the video after placing a request and going through proper channels.
The law was set up to prevent the public from trying the case of police-involved shootings or misconduct in the court of public opinion, before thorough, proper investigations can be conducted.
Today, however, the family of a man shot in Charlotte, North Carolina will be allowed to see the dash cam footage of the moments leading up to his death.
After a second night of violent protests over a police-involved shooting, police chief Kerr Putney said Thursday he will honor a request by the victim’s family to view video of the incident but will not release the footage to the public.
Putney also told reporters the video “does not give me absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun” but that the evidence “taken in totality” supports the police version of events that led to the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
The family of Scott insist that he had no gun, and that it was his habit to sit in his car and read, as he was waiting for his son to get off the bus from school.
At the time of the shooting, officers were in the neighborhood looking to serve a warrant on someone else.
The following disruptions resembled those of Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland in more recent history, where tensions were heightened on social media and rumors and falsehoods spread far more quickly than facts.
Putney has promised a transparent investigation of the original shooting incident, and agreed to let Scott’s family see the video, but stood by his refusal to release the footage to the public.
The police chief said a public release of the video would have a “negative impact on the integrity of the case.”
“Right now, my priority … is the people who are the victims of the shooting,” Putney said. “I am going to honor that request. If you think we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”
It is an amazing stance of both strength and compassion from the Charlotte police chief. We can only pray for the city, the state, and the nation that it is contagious.