The Day

Family left waiting for body cam footage after fatal police shooting


A Connecticu­t woman who waited more than a year for footage of New Britain police officers shooting her son in 2017 may not see how her husband was killed last weekend by Massachuse­tts authoritie­s anytime soon.

While Connecticu­t’s 2019 police accountabi­lity laws now require video footage to be released within four days of a use-of-force incident, Massachuse­tts does not have the same requiremen­ts.

The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office on Monday identified the man as William Tisdol, 48, who was killed early Saturday by police in a shooting outside the MGM Springfiel­d casino.

A spokespers­on for Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni referred questions about when the videos will be released to a statement that was issued Saturday about the shooting.

The statement issued by James Leydon, a spokesman for Gulluni, said the DA will conduct a “thorough, fair and transparen­t” investigat­ion that will conclude with the evidence and findings being presented to the public. But the statement gives no timeframe when the videos will be released.

According to Massachuse­tts Freedom of Informatio­n laws, the police can rely on an “ongoing investigat­ion” exemption to withhold the videos from the public, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, which identifies and monitors First Amendment issues in six New England states, including Massachuse­tts and Connecticu­t.

Silverman was not aware of any Massachuse­tts guidelines that require police to release the videos before the investigat­ion is complete. In Connecticu­t, officials, including the state’s inspector general who independen­tly investigat­es incidents of police use of force, must release body or dash camera footage within 96 hours of an incident.

“Generally speaking, the investigat­ory exemption is one of the more abused exemptions in Massachuse­tts,” Silverman said.

Body-worn camera footage, public and private recording systems, witness statements, 911 calls and dispatch logs will be examined as part of the investigat­ion, Leydon said.

“The investigat­ion will rely on nationally recognized best practices for conducting an impartial and transparen­t investigat­ion into what led to a police officer’s use of deadly force, resulting in a death,” Leydon said.

Tisdol’s wife, Dondi Morrell, said Massachuse­tts police notified her of his death, but said they would not answer her questions about what happened.

Leydon said the incident began around 2 a.m. Saturday when members of the Massachuse­tts State Police Gaming Unit and Springfiel­d police received a report that a man was “acting aggressive” to others.

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