Agencies face tough decisions on body cam videos

Posted at 7:04 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 20:18:27-04

Around the country, the number of police shootings keeps growing, and so does the protesting and civil unrest that follows them. 

In recent days, video of the shooting of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma was quickly released, the officer charged with manslaughter on Thursday. Meanwhile, video of the shootings in Charlotte, North Carolina and that of Sylville Smith in Milwaukee and Jay Anderson in Wauwautosa are still being withheld.

The question is whether or not there is a benefit to release video of these police shootings to prevent unrest - like the violence witnessed in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood saw two nights of violence. People burned businesses and protestors violently lashed out at police over the shooting.

“Ultimately these videos from police officer-involved shootings...are going to be released . So it's better to release them earlier rather then later,” said Christopher Ahmuty with Wisconsin’s ACLU in Milwaukee.

“To withhold, to try to spin it, to try to edit - all those things are going to make the situation worse when the video is released.”

However, Wisconsin’s Attorney General Brad Schimel said he is unsure that helps quell the tensions.

“Every shooting is different. You can’t develop a standard that fits all cases,” said Schimel.

The father of a man shoot by an officer over the summer weighed in today.

He says he doesn’t want a 20-second clip of his son’s shooting to be shown to the public – because he fears it will only caused more unrest.

“The way my son was shot, that don't need to be shown right now, it really don't,” said Anderson.

Anderson said he wished there was video that showed the moments before the shooting.

“When the officer drove up on him he was asleep and he knocked on the window then, if that officer saw a gun then and there he should have called backup,” said Anderson.

Anderson says this past Monday, Milwaukee County's offered to show his family the video in which his son is seen being ordered to put his hands up by officer Joseph Mensah. Anderson says his inebriated son kept reaching down.

“Even though his firearm was there - I think he was going for his telephone,” said Anderson.

Anderson claims Mensah struggled to get the body camera started, and feels the officer should have used that time to call for back up.