Delayed release of protester death videos does little for police transparency

No matter how one feels about the possibility of a public safety training facility being built in DeKalb County on land owned by the city of Atlanta and leased to Atlanta Police Department (APD), the delayed public response to releasing video and audio files of the shooting death of a protester does little to bolster public opinion of police transparency.

More than three weeks after the Jan. 18 shooting death of Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, APD began releasing segments of body camera footage of the incident that also left a Georgia State Trooper injured.

According to an APD spokesperson, the footage that has been released was captured by APD officers who responded to the shooting incident but that the state troopers involved in the shooting were reportedly not wearing body cameras.

According to an August 2022 11Alive report, on a national level, 20 state patrol organizations do not issue body cams to officers; Georgia is among those states. The prevailing logic seems to be the belief or justification that most state trooper incidents are caught and recorded via dashboard cameras in troopers’ patrol cars.

However, evidence shows that the vast majority of shooting incidents involving state troopers occur out of range of dashboard cameras and are therefore not recorded.

If our state political and law enforcement officials truly want to build better relations with residents and visitors to our state, we believe that a first, and critical, step would be to immediately implement the use of body cameras by every law enforcement agency in the state. Without video evidence, there is no transparency and plenty of room for speculative doubt.

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