FOX10 News is committed to getting you answers. A Mobile County judge did not make a decision Wednesday on a lawsuit filed by FOX10 News against the city of Mobile for police body camera footage.
It was a trial for transparency. FOX10 News believes you have the right to see body camera video paid for by the taxpayers. Judge Stout heard the argument for more than three hours at the evidentiary hearing, but has yet to make a decision.
It all stems from a lawsuit filed by FOX10 last year, after city leaders repeatedly blocked requests for a copy of body camera video from a controversial officer-involved incident in 2016. A group of McGill Toolen students were pepper sprayed while painting the cannon at the loop – a decades old tradition after a football win.
The police chief admitted the officer was in the wrong, and FOX10 News believes the video is public record, since the cameras are paid for with millions of taxpayer dollars.
On the other side, Public Safety Director James Barber testified that he's afraid this would set a precedent for overwhelming requests from the public, who might just want to see the videos for entertainment. That is something the department is not equipped enough, both staffing and technology-wise, to handle. Other members of the police department also brought up privacy concerns for both victims and juveniles seen in any video. FOX10 News firing back by proposing to blur their faces.
The issue of publicizing body camera video is one facing local governments nationwide, as more and more departments are starting to release it to encourage transparency. The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office just one example -- releasing video of a deadly deputy involved shooting after the investigation was complete last year.
Both sides of Wednesday’s hearing declined to comment until the judge makes his decision, which is expected to happen in the next several weeks.
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