Should video of the Texas church massacre be released publicly? Some Texas residents and former law enforcement officials say no, the New York Times reports. “No one ever needs to see that,” said Charlene Uhl, whose 16-year-old daughter was among the 26 victims. Grisly videos and other images captured by livestreams, security cameras and cellphones are increasingly becoming part of a raw historical record of mass shootings, haunting pieces of evidence left behind along with bullet fragments and bloodstains. A quick web search yields hours of security camera footage taken during the Columbine High School rampage in 1999.
Releasing such videos could affect the integrity of law enforcement investigations, re-traumatize families of victims and feed online voyeurs and conspiracy theorists. Others argue that keeping the videos out of public view masks the true horror of mass shootings and allows politicians and the public to avoid confronting their bloody reality. Officials have kept videos from other mass shootings out of public view for years after the fact. The Rev. Stephen Curry, who helped preside over a vigil for the First Baptist Church victims on Sunday night, said people were too devastated to support the release of the video. State and federal law enforcement officials have not said whether they intend to release it. The video was seized as part of an investigation that is likely to last for months as officials unravel the criminal past of gunman Devin Kelley. Whether Texas officials release any video images may hinge on how they apply the state’s open records law. The law permits the release of crime scene imagery in some circumstances, law enforcement agencies are able to withhold information when it “deals with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime” in a case that did not lead to a conviction.