Cities have patchwork approach to releasing police body camera videos

From The Wall Street Journal As protests raged this week over the police shooting of a black man, Charlotte police have refused to show the public footage of the incident that was captured on a police body camera. The family of 43-year-old Keith Scott, who was killed Sept. 20, has called for the video’s release, but Charlotte police Chief Kerr Putney has so far declined, saying it would imperil the investigation and further inflame the city.

Around 1,000 miles away in Tulsa, Okla., police on Monday released footage from a helicopter and dashboard camera of a Tulsa officer shooting and killing 40-year-old Terence Crutcher last Friday. The video shows Mr. Crutcher walking toward his car with his hands raised and then placing hands on the top of the car before the view from both videos is blocked and shots ring out.

“We will do the right thing, we will not cover anything up—that is not in our DNA,” said Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan at a news conference just before the videos were released.

The two approaches illustrate a widening divide over whether to show video footage to the public from body cameras and other sources, technology embraced by police officials as a way to increase transparency and accountability after police killings of black men sparked protests around the country.

Departments invested tens of millions in the new technology, but there is no universally accepted standard for handling the video it produces. Some departments have decided to publicly release video early in the hopes of heading off violent protests and building trust with minority communities; others are holding back, arguing releases could harm investigations.

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