Scott died on September 20th. In the five days since the shooting, protesters have demanded that Charlotte Police release video footage of the incident.
Initially, Police Chief Kerr Putney chose not to immediately release the camera footage, only doing so amid pressure from the public. Release of another video from one of Scott’s family members also added to the calls for police to release their footage.
Putney’s decision may be one of the final times a police chief will relent to public pressure.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the legislation two months ago, has said the law would balance “public trust” with the rights and safety of police officers. In an interview this week with CNN, the Republican governor and one-time mayor of Charlotte doubled down his support for the measure.
It’s about “respecting the public, respecting the family, and also respecting the constitutional rights of the officer,” he said.
“One viewpoint of a video doesn’t often always tell the whole story,” McCrory said. “The angles can make a difference, and [you’re] not hearing [the sound] often in the video, so that [adds to] the complexity. The video is one piece of evidence. We have to be careful.”
An image taken from dashcam video released by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department showing the moment before officers shot and killed Keith Scott.
Under current North Carolina law, dashboard cameras are considered public record, making such footage subject to open records requests.
But as more officers have become outfitted with body cameras, particularly following the heightened scrutiny surrounding officer-involved shootings, police chiefs lacked a specific law that addressed how to best release footage to citizens. So they made rules on a department-by-department basis.
With the new law, both types of videos would no longer be considered part of the public record. As a result, police departments would have more discretion as to whether they release the videos. The law has the full support of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.
Any denied requests could be appealed before a judge, according to the law.