Police video flap flares in Oakland

OaklandPDSeveral local police forces in California got on the police body-cameras bandwagon well before police killings around the nation in the summer of 2014 triggered a broad push for their adoption. The Rialto Police Department was the focus of a 2013 New York Times story that emphasized how much body cameras improved interactions between officers and the public.

But in Oakland, it appears authorities will only release the body-camera videos when they exonerate police, and that the video will be kept from the public and the media in other circumstances on the grounds that it is part of an ongoing investigation. The East Bay Express recently reported on how the Oakland police are dealing with four police killings. In two cases, Police Chief Sean Whent won’t release any body-cam footage. In the other two cases, police wouldn’t release the footage to the public. Instead, on Aug. 19, the Oakland Police Department held a screening for 11 members of the media.

This account is from the East Bay Express:

[The] videos included police body camera footage taken by officers who were chasing Richard Linyard and Nathaniel Wilks (in two separate incidents). On July 19, Linyard was allegedly fleeing the police on foot when he was later found wedged between two buildings. A coroner’s report said Linyard died from injuries he suffered when he was apparently stuck between the buildings.

 

On August 12, Wilks allegedly fled the police in a vehicle and then on foot. Several officers confronted and shot Wilks near the intersection of 27th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

 

Watson said OPD showed videos to select members of the media in order to dispel inaccurate reports that officers beat Linyard, and claims that Wilks was shot in the back. Both incidents sparked protests. “We held the viewing in the interest of the public, to be able to share information through fair and balanced reporting,” said Watson.

 

Watson, however, said that the video footage will not be released to the broader public, and that OPD believes the California Public Records Act allows the department to withhold the footage because it is evidence in several ongoing investigations.

‘Completely wrong’ to withhold some video

As the Bay Area News Group reported, giving the police the right to pick and choose which videos to release outraged local civil-rights lawyer Jim Chanin. “I think it’s completely wrong to have selective showings of one shooting and not another shooting, depending on how the department feels . … There’s an inference now that if (police) don’t show you a video, there could be something wrong or improper about (another) shooting,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, a bill that would establish statewide procedures on access to and use of policy body-camera footage appears to have failed, U-T San Diego columnist Steve Greenhut wrote on Friday.

In April, a comprehensive bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, passed its initial committee vote. Per its official description, “Assembly Bill 66 would provide guidelines about when the cameras are to be operated, require notification of those being recorded, and prohibit law-enforcement officers involved in serious use-of-force incidents that result in serious bodily injury or death from viewing the video until they have filed an initial report.” Whent, the Oakland police chief, testified in favor of the bill.

But Weber’s bill was effectively killed within weeks. As Dan Walters wrote in the Sacramento Bee:

Weber’s body camera bill was beaten up in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. Police unions, whose endorsements politicians crave, strongly opposed it as unfair, and the committee insisted that only local authorities decide when cops can see body videos.

5 comments

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  1. Red Dwarf
    Red Dwarf 31 August, 2015, 15:51

    Pray for the police that to work in Oakland!

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 September, 2015, 21:39

    But in Oakland, it appears authorities will only release the body-camera videos when they exonerate police, and that the video will be kept from the public and the media in other circumstances on the grounds that it is part of an ongoing investigation
    Whoever came up with this policy is an idiot, and has NO BUSINESS running a PD. You need to build TRUST with the public, that is he bottom line. This destroys trust.

    Reply this comment
  3. Outcast
    Outcast 3 September, 2015, 02:43

    Bill 66 got the same treatment as any citizen who questions the PD’s intent, Beaten up and killed. But I guess that’s better than being framed with DNA for something horrendous, that it didn’t do.
    “Demand police DNA!” What are they trying to hide?

    Reply this comment
  4. Donkey
    Donkey 3 September, 2015, 13:27

    There are many psychopaths hiding behind the blue wall, and why they only want to release the good film.
    But if it is an unconnected citizen the reels would flow. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  5. spurwing Plover
    spurwing Plover 6 September, 2015, 09:42

    The Black Panthers now threating to kill police and whites its time they be declared Domestic Terrorists and investigated

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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