Expert: Timing of Body Cam Footage Release Varies Case-by-Case

August 09, 2018 10:15 PM

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office says they will not file charges against the St. Paul officers involved in a deadly shooting last October.

This body camera video was released Thursday from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It shows officers running after 28-year-old Phumee Lee telling him to put his hands up. The BCA said the officers fired after Lee pulled out a gun and exchanged shots with them.

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The county attorney says officers Jordan Wild and Daniel Gleason were justified in their use of force. Investigators said this started as a domestic violence incident when Lee allegedly shot at his significant other. She was not hurt.

RELATED: Body Camera, Surveillance Video Released in 2017 St. Paul OIS

"You might not get all the answers which is why it's just a piece of the puzzle," said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL - St. Louis Park. 

Latz helped author the body camera law in Minnesota.

"I think we've come a great length," Latz said. 

This video came out only after the Ramsey County prosecutor ruled the officers were justified and declined to charge them. That's 10 months after the shots were fired, a much longer time period than two of the most recent deadly police shootings in the Twin Cities.

RELATED: St. Paul Police Chief to Release OIS Body Cam Video in Next 10 Days

William Hughes was killed Sunday in St. Paul. Police Chief Todd Axtell has promised to release body camera video by the end of next week.

In Minneapolis, officers killed Thurman Blevins on June 23, and the video came out a little more than a month later.

KSTP's Coverage of the Thurman Blevins OIS

"When there is potential for protests or public disruption based on misinformation or lack of information then there's greater value in earlier release," Latz said. 

Latz believes departments are evolving with this technology.

"I think departments are getting more experience, and that's valuable," Latz said. 

While often times difficult to watch, Latz stresses it's important to find a balance between transparency and privacy in all of these cases, regardless of when the footage becomes public. 

"The BCA and the local departments have to work together to figure out what's the best time to release that without compromising the investigation," Latz said. 

The BCA investigates officer-involved shootings, and always releases evidence like video after a case is closed. However, there is a state statute allowing for the release of video and other evidence before that. In those cases, the court weighs whether the release will benefit or harm the public, the investigation, or anyone involved in the case.

Credits

Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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