On Sept. 3, Greensboro City Council Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that the City Council would discuss watching the police body worn camera videos of an incident downtown on Sept. 10, 2016 at the Sept. 17 City Council meeting.
A lot was discussed by the City Council at the Sept. 17 meeting, which started for the City Council with a work session at 4 p.m. and adjourned at 11 p.m., but not the police body worn camera videos, which weren’t on the agenda.
When asked about the lack of discussion, Vaughan said, “Quite frankly it just fell by the wayside.”
By state law the City Council cannot view police body worn camera videos without permission from a North Carolina Superior Court judge. The City Council petitioned the court and was granted permission to view the police videos of the incident that resulted in the arrest of four men. But NC Superior Court Judge Susan Bray added a restriction. The City Council could view the videos but couldn’t talk to others about what they had seen.
At the time the City Council discussed viewing the video and abiding by the gag order but reached a consensus that no member of the City Council would view the video and instead the city would challenge the gag order in court.
The city appealed the gag order and the NC Court of Appeals ruled against the city and in favor of the gag order remaining in place. The city is currently appealing that decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
At the town hall meeting on Sept. 3, City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said she would like to view the video and City Attorney Chuck Watts said that Kennedy or any member of the City Council could view the video as long as they signed the paperwork agreeing to abide by the gag order.
Vaughan said that she thought this was something that should be discussed by the City Council and it would be placed on the agenda for the Sept. 17 meeting.
Vaughan noted that since the Sept. 3 meeting, Zared Jones, one of the men who was arrested had filed a lawsuit against the city and she wanted to talk to Watts about the implications of that and other pending legal issues.
She said that although Watts said any councilmember could view the video without the permission of other councilmembers that no one had. She said, “We haven’t watched it and we haven’t discussed it.”
Vaughan added that it was something the City Council needed to discuss and would in the future but they might decide to wait for some of the legal issues to be resolved.