Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wis. police-shooting video to be released after probe


  These bodies cameras were touted on the grounds they would prevent riots and improve relations between the police and the black community. They failed to do that. All one can hope for now is that the video evidence will demonstrate without a doubt that this was a justifiable use of lethal force and thereby enable the City of Milwaukee to avoid and/or defeat the inevitable predatory lawsuits for wrongful death and denial of civil rights. Obviously these police body cameras are of limited utility if the authorities are going to be unwilling to release the  video to the public right away. And of course the authorities are always going to be unwilling to release such evidence until they have completed their investigation into the incident, for fear or prejudicing a case by “trying it in public”. So the investigation and analysis will take some days or weeks. These police shootings of black criminals are being exploited for political advantage, so any hesitation to release evidence by the authorities is going to play right into the hands of the political agitators and race hustlers.

MILWAUKEE — Body camera footage of a fatal police shooting that sparked unrest in Milwaukee will not be released until the Milwaukee County district attorney makes a charging decision, the state district attorney said Monday.
Three officers were on the scene of the Aug. 13 shooting quickly and two of them were wearing body cameras, said Attorney General Brad Schimel. He said the officers have not viewed any of the footage.
Schimel said the body camera footage would not answer all the questions about what happened during the interaction that led to the fatal police shooting. The release of the footage could compromise the investigation, he said.
“The investigation is ongoing and it is done only when the prosecutor is satisfied that the investigators have given them all we can," said Schimel. "That means until a charging decision is final there could always be follow-up.”
The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which Schimel heads, is leading the probe into the fatal shooting at the request of Milwaukee police and in compliance with a 2014 state law requiring outside investigation of officer-involved deaths.
According to preliminary information provided by city officials, Smith was shot when he ran from a traffic stop on the afternoon of Aug. 13. Police Chief Edward Flynn has said body camera footage shows Smith was armed and turning toward Officer Dominique Heaggan, who then opened fire. That footage has not been released publicly. Unlike other controversial police shootings around the country, both the officer and the suspect were black.
“Release of the videos would compromise the integrity of the investigation," Schimel said.
“We do not want to create the worst-case scenario: That the DA determines that charges might be appropriate and then cannot complete a successful investigation because we let the investigation get compromised," he later added.
An autopsy showed Smith suffered one gunshot wound to the chest and one gunshot wound to the right arm, the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office said Friday.
The fatal police shooting touched off two nights of violent unrest in the city's Sherman Park neighborhood, which many observers said had its roots in decades of systematic problems including segregation and poverty.
During those two nights, eight businesses were torched, at least six squad cars were damaged, at least four officers were injured and two teens were wounded in separate shootings. Three people have been charged in connection with looting at a liquor store. Authorities estimate the damage at several millions of dollars.
Smith, 23, who had been arrested multiple times but had never been convicted of a felony, could legally carry a gun and his family has said he was a concealed-carry permit holder. He is survived by a 2-year-old son.
Heaggan, 24, who began his career as a police aide in 2010 and became a sworn officer three years later, was recognized by the Police Department in 2014 for helping a homeless woman. No complaint has ever been filed against him. 
He is facing widespread threats on social media, and at a news conference the day after the shooting Flynn said the officer was out of town for his own safety.
Follow Ashley Luthern on Twitter: @aluthern

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