What’s the point of wearing a body camera if you aren’t even going to turn it on?
New reports are surfacing that a Charlotte police officer failed to activate his body cam until after Keith Lamont Scott was killed. Not only was this oversight a loss in evidence that would’ve provided more insight about what happened in The Village at College Downs apartment complex on September 20, but was in direct violation of department policy.
The Washington Post reports the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, spent $7 million dollars on body cameras last year, becoming one of the first major metro areas to equip all officers — and police dogs — with body cams. And while there are functions on the Axon Flex body cameras that don’t record audio for a period of time until activated, many are wondering why the unnamed officer failed to turn on his camera once he exited his car.
… Especially when you consider policy in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department dictates that all officers must enable their body cams “‘prior to or in anticipation of’ interactions with civilians resulting from traffic stops, suspicious vehicle or persons investigations, arrests, use of force incidents and voluntary investigative conduct,” as Wesley Lowery, author of the Washington Post article, notes.
Justin Bramberg, an attorney for the family of Keith Lamont Scott, says:
Information that we could have had is forever gone because of this officer’s failure to follow department policy and procedures. Those policies exist for a reason, and there is a reason the CMPD equips its officers with body cameras – because body cameras provide visual evidence so that when tragic things do happen we don’t have to question exactly what happened
(Other officers at the scene were reported not wearing body cameras.)
As the daughter of a now retired police sergeant, I support our men and women in blue and the sacrifices they make for the job. I can only imagine what it’s like to put on a vest, kiss your child (I was often on the receiving end of those gestures of affection), and head to work — not knowing if you’ll make it home.
But incidents like this frustrate me, and I’m not afraid to say there needs to be better accountability and transparency among those who take on the role of serving and protecting our communities.
Thus far, we have only seen three videos from what happened in that North Carolina parking lot: two partial videos (seen below) from Charlotte police, and the cell phone footage from Rakeyia Scott, Keith Lamont Scott’s widow, who was just feet from the incident.
As we scramble to try and make sense of what many of us believe was a senseless killing, thus far, the videos we’ve seen not only fail to show what happened leading up to Scott being shot four times, but the very weapon officers at the scene say Keith Lamont Scott had in his hand.
Even Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney admits “there is no definitive visual evidence that he [Keith Lamont Scott] had a gun in his hand” in any of the video footage (some believe released videos do not show a gun near Scott’s body) which would make anyone question why Scott was perceived a threat — or why police officers thought no other course of action was necessary for a man cops say they were not there to arrest in the first place.
And sadly, we may never get to the bottom of things as the North Carolina law that blocks the release of body camera footage goes into effect October 1 …
Body cameras not only provide clarity and transparency into a situation, but body cams also benefit the police, too. Having such footage available helps remove any questions about whether or not an officer followed protocol, used excessive force, or even told the truth. This makes me wonder why departments — and now a state — want to try and prohibit recording from seeing the light of day.
If you don’t have anything to hide, why not release footage to prove you did nothing wrong?
I truly hope we get to the bottom of this … I’m just not sure we’ll ever have true transparency and accountability if some officers don’t follow protocol.