Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney is refusing to release the bodycam video footage of the death of Keith Scott.
The announcement came just moments after Mayor Jennifer Roberts promised that there would be transparency in the case.
Putney claimed that he could not release the video footage because of a state law that requires a court order for such video to be released.
“The law is pretty specific, especially around criminal evidence for an investigation,” Putney said. “I cannot release that.”
But as the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina told ThinkProgress, the law Putney is referencing doesn’t even take effect until October 1, so relying on the controversial law doesn’t make sense in this case.
“Of course he doesn’t need [a court order] now. It’s entirely in the department’s discretion,” ACLU NC communications director Mike Meno said. “We’re urging Chief Putney and CMPD to release this footage in the interest of transparency.”
“Where you have a situation like this where there are conflicting accounts from police and community members, it’s in the public interest to release footage that can shine a light on what happened,” he added. “Not only can this hold officers accountable if they’ve abused their power, but if the officer’s being accused of something they haven’t done it can show that as well.”
CMPD attorney Mark Newbold later clarified Putney’s statements, claiming that they were made in reference to state statute 132–1.4 , which states that “records of criminal investigations” are not public but “may be released” by court order.
“The way we’ve interpreted that is if something is in the very early part of an investigation we won’t release it without a court order,” Newbold said. “It’s fair to say we have several competing interests we had to weigh.”