Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageCalifornia city must pay for police cam videos needed for lawsuit

By Nathan Salant     Jul 7, 2016 in World
Oakland - A San Francisco Bay Area city has been ordered to pay for copies of police videos that could show misconduct during Black Lives Matter protests in 2014.
The ruling is said to be the first requiring public release of video recorded by police body cameras, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
The decision came in a lawsuit alleging excessive force against officers from Hayward who used force to break up a noisy but peaceful protest on Telegraph Avenue, just south of the University of California campus in Berkeley, in December 2014.
Alameda County Superior Court judge Evelio Grillo decided not only that the public was entitled to see the video but that police should bear the cost of providing the body cam footage.
The judge ruled that the public's right to know was more important than the cost of providing the information.
“They tried to make it very expensive to dissuade us from getting the videos,” said Rachel Lederman, an attorney for the National Lawyers Guild who helped represent the protesters.
“For a general member of the public, this would make it impossible for body cameras to serve their purpose," she said.
The Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, which also joined the case on behalf of protesters, paid more than $3,000 to get the body cam footage from Hayward, one of the East Bay Area departments that responded to the protests.
Another lawsuit alleging excessive force is pending against Berkeley police, which led the law enforcement response, the newspaper said.
California public records law does permit certain charges for document production.
But Grillio said the allowable charges did not include the camera footage, and ordered Hayward to pay back the money.
The two-day protest came in reaction to the police-involved shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY, iearlier in 2014.
Police agencies responded with nonlethal force that involved tear gas, plastic bullets and batons.
But several protesters complained of being struck and injured without justification.
Video footage obtained from police reportedly shows officers profanely describing the protesters as "animals," the newspaper said.
“When public entities start pricing access to what’s otherwise a fundamental right of the public, that is excessive,” said Amitai Schwartz, another National Lawyers Guild attorney representing protesters.
“That blocks access to records that would otherwise be available,” Schwartz said.
Attorneys for the city of Hayward could appeal Grillo's ruling.
The lawsuit against Berkeley police is scheduled to begin in November 2017 in federal court, the newspaper said.
More about black lives matter, Berkeley, Oakland, Demonstrations, alameda
More news from
Latest News
Top News