Police department policies vary when it comes to releasing body camera video

HOUSTON – Cities around the country including Austin, Atlanta and Oklahoma City, have released body camera videos of controversial police encounters in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody as there are more insistent calls for more transparency from law enforcement.

Body-worn cameras for all Houston police officers were introduced four years ago, but the public has rarely, if ever, been able to view any footage. But as pressure mounts from protesters, lawmakers and others, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said this about his department’s policy.

“If anyone wants to see a video they need to contact the police department,” Acevedo said.

Houston’s policy

But it’s not that simple. Acevedo said at present, only family members would be able to review video, and only if they approved its release. In the past, Acevedo has said he won’t release the videos out of respect for the families involved and because it could impact a jury if an officer ever stands trial.

Lovie Williams Linzer is one family member who asked to see the body cam video of her nephew’s death. Davion Edison, 18, was shot and killed by Houston officers in December after they say he fired at them during a chase.

“I want to see it myself,” Linzer said. “And I want it released to everyone.”

Earlier this week, HPD told her she could come in to see the video but later postponed her appointment.

About the Authors: