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NY attorney general to proactively release police body camera footage

The Hill logo The Hill 9/20/2020 Rebecca Klar
a close up of a person wearing glasses: NY attorney general to proactively release police body camera footage © The Hill NY attorney general to proactively release police body camera footage

The office of the New York Attorney General will start proactively releasing police body camera footage in situations of officer involved killings of unarmed civilians, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sfaid Sunday.

The policy reverses rules that left the release of such footage up to the discretion of local authorities, James said at a press conference in Rochester, N.Y.

"This is footage we obtain as part of investigations, conducted by our special prosecutions unit. Up until now, release of footage has been up to the discretion of local authorities, but this process has caused confusion, delays, and has hampered transparency in a system that should be as open as possible," James said. "Starting immediately, the office of attorney general will now be proactively releasing video footage to the public on our own."

James said the new policy will avoid leaving the public in the dark, as she said occurred in the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester police custody in March. Prude died of asphyxiation in March after local police put a hood over his head and pressed his head to a street for two minutes. His death only gained attention after his family released records and footage earlier this month.

James said her office will aim to release footage quickly, after it is shown to the deceased's family. She also said her office will take privacy concerns into consideration.

"We will move as swiftly as possible so that the public no longer has to wait months and months before seeing videos in possession of law enforcement," James said. "This new policy will help to prevent instances where the public has been kept in the dark for far too long, such as what happened in the Prude case."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) fired the city's chief of police and suspended its city attorney last week in the aftermath of Prude's death.

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