Body cams ques­tioned af­ter Char­lotte po­lice killings

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. » The fa­tal shoot­ing of a black man by a po­lice of­fi­cer in Char­lotte is only the lat­est shoot­ing to raise ques­tions about how the depart­ment uses body cam­eras.

Six peo­ple were fa­tally shot since body cam­eras were given to all pa­trol of­fi­cers about a year ago. But the of­fi­cers who fired the fa­tal shots in five of those cases — in­clud­ing Keith La­mont Scott’s — weren’t us­ing the cam­eras.

The week­end re­lease of po­lice footage show­ing the shoot­ing of Scott did lit­tle to ease some res­i­dents’ con­cerns about its han­dling. More than 100 peo­ple jammed City Coun­cil cham­bers Mon­day night to voice their frus­tra­tions, call­ing for Mayor Jen­nifer Roberts and Po­lice Chief Kerr Put­ney to re­sign.

“We have no rea­son to trust you, and you’re giv­ing us even less,” Khasha Har­ris said at the fo­rum. “Deep down some­where, your con­science has to be both­er­ing you.”

The Rev. Mil­ton Wil­liams, the last speaker of nearly 50 at the meet­ing, blamed po­lice for ac­tions that led to un­rest over two nights

“Our city’s in an up­roar, and you did not re­spond. Po­lice es­ca­lated that tem­per­a­ture out there,” Wil­liams said. “No jus­tice, no peace. I’m go­ing to be preach­ing that every Sun­day.”

Roberts and Put­ney have taken crit­i­cism for their han­dling of the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing, in­clud­ing the de­lay in the re­lease of video show­ing the shoot­ing.

Scott’s fam­ily and ad­vo­cacy groups com­plain the depart­ment di­vulged only about three min­utes of footage from two cam­eras. The footage in­cludes body cam­era video from an­other of­fi­cer but not the black of­fi­cer who fa­tally wounded Scott.

Scott’s fam­ily said he didn’t have a weapon. They have urged the po­lice depart­ment to re­lease all other video footage it has, as well as au­dio record­ings of com­mu­ni­ca­tions that could clar­ify how the sit­u­a­tion un­folded. A me­dia coali­tion is also re­quest­ing more footage.

Put­ney has said the of­fi­cer who shot Scott wasn’t wear­ing a body cam­era that day be­cause he’s part of a tac­ti­cal unit.

“Our tac­ti­cal units don’t all have body-worn cam­eras at this point,” Put­ney told re­porters on Satur­day, adding they are to re­ceive them in the fu­ture. He said was pre­vi­ously re­luc­tant to make of­fi­cers in high­risk op­er­a­tions wear cam­eras show­ing tac­tics and lo­ca­tions.

The gun re­cov­ered at the scene of Scott’s shoot­ing had been stolen and later sold to Scott, a Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg po­lice source told The Associated Press on Mon­day. The source in­sisted on speak­ing anony­mously be­cause the State Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues to look into the case. SBI Agent Erik Hooks de­clined com­ment when asked whether the gun was stolen.

The depart­ment said plain­clothes of­fi­cers who saw Scott with a gun and mar­i­juana left the area to put on vests iden­ti­fy­ing them as po­lice be­fore con­fronting him.

If the of­fi­cers “had the fore­sight to put on their po­lice vest, why did you not put on your body cam?” asked Corine Mack, pres­i­dent of the Char­lotte NAACP chap­ter.

Su­sanna Bird­song, a le­gal pol­icy ex­pert for the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, ques­tioned whether the depart­ment is vi­o­lat­ing its own body cam­era pol­icy in­sti­tuted in April 2015.

The pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment’s site, states the cam­eras must be ac­ti­vated in sit­u­a­tions in­clud­ing ar­rests and en­coun­ters with sus­pi­cious peo­ple. It doesn’t ad­dress whether tac­ti­cal units must wear them.

Re­fer­ring to the Scott case and oth­ers, Mack said she’s an­gry not all units have the cam­eras yet.

“It speaks to the cul­ture of the po­lice depart­ment that even when poli­cies and pro­ce­dures are put in place, that they feel they don’t have to follow them,” she said. “This is se­ri­ous, that there is no record of a life be­ing taken . ... Peo­ple want to know why we don’t trust the po­lice depart­ment?”

SKIP FORE­MAN — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Po­lice of­fi­cers stand out­side Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium for an NFL foot­ball game be­tween the Min­nesota Vik­ings and the Carolina Pan­thers, Sun­day. Ex­tra se­cu­rity was posted out­side the sta­dium in re­sponse to protests over the shoot­ing death of a black man by a po­lice of­fi­cer on Sept. 20.

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