The refusal of a California city to release videos showing the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by police is an attempt to avoid public scrutiny and criticism, three media outlets argue in a federal court motion seeking release of the footage, the Associated Press reports. The videos, which are under a federal court seal, show 34-year-old Ricardo Diaz Zeferino being shot by Gardena police officers in 2013. His family and another man who was wounded filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that the city settled for $4.7 million this year. The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg claim Gardena officials want the videos sealed to avoid criticism.
There is profound public interest in the release against the backdrop of fatal police shootings around the country, the media outlets contend. “Access to the videos is critical for the public to have a full and accurate account of the proceedings that occurred before this court, and the circumstances that led to the city defendants’ payment of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to settle allegations of alleged police misconduct,” the news organizations argued. Videos of such interactions often prompt institutional change, they said. Gardena argues to keep the videos sealed, citing privacy concerns and saying release could cause unfounded speculation. “This is a particularly legitimate concern given the anti-police sentiment which has recently become so prevalent,” the city says.