RTDNA urges court to keep police videos public

April 4, 2016 03:45

A police-involved shooting in Gardena, California in 2013 was captured on police dashboard cameras. That video, sealed during the process of settling a civil rights lawsuit, was eventually released to the public. But the city filed a motion, calling for all future police video to be automatically exempt from release, pending any appeal.

RTDNA, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several other media organizations have filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing the automatic exemption of police videos from release would not serve the public interest. RTDNA is urging the Court to continue its practice of assuming all police video should be accessible to the public, subject to an existing four-part test for determining whether such video should be withheld.

Following a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the court could seal the video if it considered (1) the likelihood that the City would succeed on the merits on appeal, (2) the possibility of irreparable injury to the parties requesting the stay, (3) the possibility of substantial injury to others, and (4) the public’s interests in secrecy and disclosure.

The brief goes on to argue that the public’s interest in government transparency and accountability overwhelms any interest in keeping the videos confidential, and that government cannot rely on the presumed response to its officers’ conduct in order to prevent discovery of alleged misconduct.

You can read the full brief here.