Will Video Be Released in Charlotte Officer-Involved Shooting?

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The police officer who shot Keith Scott was not wearing a body camera but Charlotte's police chief said portions of the confrontation were captured on dash cameras.

READ: CMPD Chief Responds to Deadly Shooting, Protest Turning Violent 

Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina asked for that video to be released.
Scott's family and communities are also demanding the video be made public. But as WFMY News 2 found out, in North Carolina, with our laws, that probably won't happen anytime soon.

Lawmakers passed a bill this summer that controls access to body camera footage but it doesn't go into effect until October first.

READ: NC Governor Signs Bill That Powers Down Access to Police Body Cam Video 

The ACLU is asking Charlotte Police to release this video before that deadline in the interest of accountability and transparency.

Criminal law professor Kami Chavis says there are pros and cons to releasing the video right away.

"Some of the reasons to release that footage immediately would be to quell certain concerns. If you see a suspect that has acted in some unreasonable manner, then it's easier for people to understand why a police officer may have reacted as they did," said Chavis, Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law.

Two days after a fatal police shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, police released dash cam video and video from a helicopter of the incident. Chavis says that's because different jurisdictions have different policies on releasing this footage.

She says there's a patchwork of policies nationwide which can make it difficult for the public to understand why video is released in one place and not another.

Defense attorney David Freedman has represented about 30 officers involved in shootings and says releasing the video could jeopardize a potential criminal case.

"The concern and the reason you have the state law is because it's an ongoing criminal investigation until the DA decides whether to charge. You don't want to prejudice the case for the police officer or for the person who was shot," said Freedman.

When an officer is involved in a shooting, a criminal investigation is launched to see if the officer acted justly.  Dash cam and body camera footage is often key pieces of information.

State law prohibits evidence in criminal cases to be made public and in most cases, the SBI, which investigates most officer-involved shootings, asks the judge to seal the video to protect the evidence in case there are charges filed.

When the new law goes into effect in October, only a judge will have the power to release video in a case like this.

Copyright 2016 WFMY


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