After NYLPI Wins Landmark Legal Rulings, NYPD Pledges Release of Body Camera Footage Policy This Month

October 18, 2019

Disability Justice, Media Coverage, NYLPI v. NYPD, News

Bodyworn Camera Footage

Gotham Gazette reports today on the New York Police Department’s plans to finally publish a formal policy regarding the release of body-worn camera footage, following NYLPI’s recent achievement of landmark legal rulings forcing the NYPD to turn over bodycam footage in police shootings involving people suffering mental health crises.

Writes reporter Samar Kurshid:

The New York City police department is set to finally publish its formal policy regarding the release of body-worn camera footage, nearly seven months after every uniformed patrol officer was equipped with a body camera. While the signature reform has been touted by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a means to improve policing and to provide transparency and accountability to the public, there have been no clear guidelines on how the department determines when to release footage to the public and the press.

Indication of the impending announcement, given to Gotham Gazette by an NYPD spokesperson, comes amid questions about the death of NYPD Officer Brian Mulkeen in a ‘friendly fire’ incident last month – including when the city will make public the body-camera footage of officers involved in the shooting, which apparently occurred as Mulkeen wrestled with a suspect who was also killed by responding officers.

The story cites NYLPI’s legal advocacy:

But the police department has not always been forthcoming or consistent, as the mayor claims. In a June ruling in a lawsuit brought by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, a judge ordered the department to release all relevant footage from the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed, mentally ill Bronx resident at the hands of police. An earlier collection of footage the department had made public excluded certain officers who were at the scene.

The department’s new policy comes amidst signs of the city moving towards changes in the way the NYPD handles people in mental health crisis. NYLPI and a host of disability rights organizations wrote to mayor Bill de Blasio last week, asking him to institute robust reform measures to the way the city handles police crisis response.

Meanwhile, NYLPI’s Director of Disability Justice, Ruth Lowenkron, spoke earlier this month at a rally in partnership with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams about his new report, which reenvisions the city’s response to mental health crises to involve a peer response model.

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