The release of police body worn camera videos has become an even more controversial issue with the video of the shooting of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, being withheld.
The Greensboro Police Officers Association has jumped into that fray with a letter dated Wednesday, April 28 to Gov. Roy Cooper and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
The letter from president of the GPOA Cody St. Pierre states, “I write this letter to you to express the GPOA’s consistent and unwavering support for timely, complete and unedited release of Body Worn Camera (“BWC”) footage, and to seek the support of North Carolina’s Governor and Lt. Governor for our position.”
The letter continues, “We recognize that BWC footage is a good thing. Though, arguably, no other profession in the world is subject to this degree of workplace scrutiny, rather than shrink away from it, we embrace it.”
St. Pierre states that police officers make mistakes and that there could be a “bad apple” in the group. And he adds, “Again, we are humans. However, the BWC will show what it shows and we implore you to support our request for comprehensive, well drafted legislation that provides for timely, complete and unedited release of BWC in critical shooting incidents and other critical incidents that result in the loss of life.”
Under the current law in North Carolina only a Superior Court Judge can release police BWC videos. A police chief, a city council, a district attorney or anyone else cannot release police BWC videos without an order from a Superior Court judge.
St. Pierre states, “We the GPOA, seek the release at the discretion of the Chief of Police, and will require approval by a judge only when there is an objection by the District Attorney.”
In the case in Elizabeth City, Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster decided not to release the BWC footage of the shooting of Brown by Pasquotank Sheriff’s Department deputies. The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department and the media through their attorneys had requested the release. However, the Pasquotank County district attorney opposed the release until the investigation of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) could be completed.