Debate Over Release of Police Bodycam Footage Heats Up in Hawaii

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After two fatal police shootings in April, in Honolulu, HI, were caught on police body cameras, there is an increasing demand for a uniform policy concerning when to release the footage, reports Honolulu’s Civil Beat. The Honolulu Police Department (HPD)  is considering the timing of body camera footage release, says Acting Chief Rade Vanic. So far, the HPD released incomplete footage of one and no footage of the other shooting. One video shows the death of Iremamber Sykap, a 16-year-old shot after a police pursuit. An organization advocating for government transparency filed suit to force the immediate release of the video.

Releasing videos to the public before a charging decision is made can potentially poison the jury pool, says Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alms, whose office is investigating the recent police shootings. Chief Vanic says, “you need to consider the body-worn camera…is evidence in a criminal case and investigation.” Scrutiny of police intensifies after the years of high-profile killings and nationwide protests last year. This has caused many to call for body camera footage to be released more quickly. Police Commissioner Doug Chin says that people don’t take the word of police at face value anymore. There is no national consensus about when body camera footage should be released.

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