Thursday, September 22, 2016

Number 194 and Number 972

194: Keith Lamont Scott was the 194th black man killed by police this year. Charlotte has erupted over his death.

972: NC House Bill 972, passed and signed by the governor this past summer, prevents the release of police body-cam footage without a court order.

That ridiculous law comes into full focus because of the killing of Keith Lamont Scott. The officer who shot Scott was not wearing a body-cam. According to reports, it is Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department policy that all police officers should be wearing a body-cam during an arrest. Why wasn't the shooting officer?

HB972 comes into focus right now, even though it isn't in effect until October 1, precisely because of an incident like the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. According to the Charlotte Observer, Scott's family today is being shown body-cam and dash-cam footage taken from other police officers on the scene. If HB972 were in effect, it would take a court order to see that footage.

Why would the Republicans in the NC General Assembly pass such a law, and why would the governor sign it? McCrory took pen in hand to sign HB972 and said he was balancing "public trust" with "the rights and safety of police officers." The governor said the new law will promote "uniformity, clarity and transparency." No, he really said that.

We believe that the law will promote precisely the opposite of "clarity and transparency," though, yes, perhaps it will give total "uniformity" to future police cover-ups.

We await reports of what the other body-cams show about this shooting. In the meantime, we ruminate on where our Republican masters have taken and continue to take this state.


Anonymous said...

This shows how ignorant you are. This law doesn't start until October. This incident would fall under the current law. The agency can give it or not.

J.W. Williamson said...

You might want to read the post again. I said the law doesn't take effect until Oct. 1. This Charlotte shooting has brought it into focus as a bad law.

Anonymous said...

JW, I am not sure whether I agreee with you on this one or not. If police are going to videotape every interaction with a citizen, should every one of these interactions be subject to public viewing? If a deputy stops me for a license check and asks me a few questions about where I have been and where am I going, should that conversation be made public? If a policeman comes to my house to interview me about a neighbors activity, do I have to see that interview replayed on TV?

I absolutely agree that the Charlotte tape should be released. Any privacy claim that might be made has been waived by the family who asked that the tape be released.