Baltimore County withholds body camera footage in three police shootings
County police have shot six people in four separate incidents since January, killing two of them.
Body cameras captured all of the shootings, but police have made the videos public in only one case, saying they are still investigating the other shootings or that county prosecutors have told them the footage is evidence in upcoming trials.
“Release could compromise the prosecution and the defendants’ right to fair trials,” police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.
The department first deployed body cameras last July, and currently about 550 of the county’s 1900 officers have them.
In Baltimore City, three police shootings have been captured on body cameras since the department began using the devices last May. City police have released footage in all the incidents, though in one case they allowed only members of the news media to see it.
The ACLU of Maryland called Baltimore County’s withholding of footage concerning.
“Despite lip service being paid to transparency and accountability, both in their policies and in their actions, what we are seeing is the opposite,” said David Rocah, an attorney with the organization.
He said body cameras shed light on incidents “so we don’t simply have to take officers’ word for what happened in a particular situation, which is precisely why Baltimore County supposedly adopted and then sped up their body camera program.”