"...there was already misinformation that was disseminated to the media that required explanation in reference to the law enforcement response."
We asked Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Roberts to clarify some points about the edited video of a March 23 fatal officer-involved shooting that CCPD released Monday.
Charles Calhoun, 68, died several minutes after a CCPD officer fired a single rifle shot at him. Police say Calhoun had pointed a shotgun at them. Calhoun’s family said he thought an intruder had targeted their house. The GBI is investigating at CCPD’s request.
The video, which included several 911 audio calls and footage from one body camera, was released a week after the NAACP Clayton County Branch had requested it on the family’s behalf. CCPD had censored part of the video showing Calhoun after he had been shot, added annotations pointing out a shotgun and shells on the ground, and released it to social media.
911 calls and video from body-worn cameras and patrol vehicles are all public records under Georgia law. While an agency does not have to provide those records during an active investigation, Roberts said he decided to release them due to intense public interest.
Clayton Crescent: Why not release the unedited footage to the news media (thereby avoiding multiple open records requests)?
Chief Kevin Roberts: The body camera footage was released in an edited manner in an effort to be respectful to the family. At the time we began preparing the footage, I was responding to the Local NAACP request only. Other open records request followed over a week later.
Clayton Crescent: Why take a week to produce a 30-plus minute mix of audio and censored video on a single video clip, rather than expedite the raw video directly to professional working journalists?
Chief Kevin Roberts: The mix of audio and video was released to provide context to the incident in its entirety without interfering with the ongoing GBI investigation. Additionally, there was already misinformation that was disseminated to the media that required explanation in reference to the law enforcement response.
Clayton Crescent: How many BWCs [body-worn cameras] on how many officers caught the shooting and its aftermath? How many vehicle-mounted cameras on how many vehicles caught the shooting and its aftermath?
Chief Kevin Roberts: There were numerous officers on scene and our Office of Professional Standards is still in the process of reviewing body worn camera and in car camera footage. Therefore, I am unable to advise how many BWCs and ICCs caught the shooting and its aftermath.
Clayton Crescent: What time did the ambulance leave the scene?
Chief Kevin Roberts: The ambulance left the scene at 11:47 a.m. after being released by the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office.
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