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Alabama lawmakers say no to releasing police body camera and dashcam footage

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An Alabama Senate committee voted down a bill that would have required the public release of police body-worn camera video and dash camera footage. Senator Merika Coleman, the sponsor of the bill rejected 8-4 by the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she will reintroduce the legislation next year.

The bill would have made such recordings public record and require release within 30 days of a request to view the video. A person would be able to petition a circuit judge in the county if the law enforcement agency rejected the request to release the video.

Coleman said families of people who have died in altercations with police have had delays or difficulty seeing body camera footage despite a state law saying they should have access. She said public release would also clamp down on rumors that arise when a person is killed or injured by police. She said the release could identify "bad apples" or verify that police acted properly.

"My major concern is making sure that families have access to the body cam," she said.

The legislation was named after two Black men who died after being shot or shocked with a stun gun during altercations with police.

Lawmakers opposed to the bill said they were concerned that the public release of the video could hamper ongoing investigations or defense efforts.

Republican Senator Lance Bell said he knew of cases where release of the footage during an investigation would "hurt both sides, badly."

 

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