A North Carolina law that limits public access to footage from police body cameras goes into effect on October 1st. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill in mid-July, however, the issue has become increasingly relevant in the wake of the shooting death of Keith L. Scott and subsequent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina over this past week.
The new law, which the ACLU referred to as “shameful,” states that footage from the body camera videos are not public record. If someone is seen or heard on the video, they may submit a written request to see it, but they cannot be released to the public without a court order.
Governor McCrory defended the law as a way to give the public information about controversial interactions with law enforcement without creating a so-called distorted picture that would be “extremely unfair to our law enforcement officials.”
Opponents of the law say it is yet another obstacle to ensuring people of color have their civil liberties respected. “There is no reason this footage should not be public record,” said North Carolina state representative Verla Insko. “It involves public employees carrying out public duties, using publicly funded equipment, while being paid by the public. This information is the very definition of a public record.”
Protests have sprung up in Charlotte in the wake of the recent killing of Keith L. Scott, who community members say was clutching nothing but a book at the time of his shooting death by police. There have been calls for the Department of Justice to intervene in both the shooting investigation and the state’s body camera law.