MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shortly after a deadly police shooting on South Parkway Wednesday afternoon, social media reports said dispatchers told officers to shut off all body and car cameras in the area of the shooting.
WREG asked MPD and the Mayor’s Office about that.
They said two officers did have body cameras that were being used as a field test.
They also said the crime investigator can ask for cameras to be turned off once the investigation is underway.
It worried those who have pushed to get body cameras in Memphis.
“Why would you want to turn them off if you want to be transparent and held accountable for the things you say you are not doing? You wouldn’t want to turn them off,” said Steven Bradley of Black Lives Matter.
According to MPD’s policy, the cameras are supposed to stay on until an event has concluded.
That occurs when an officer has terminated contact with a person, cleared the scene or is told to do so by a member of the Inspection Services Bureau and in that case, it should be recorded.
“If you are in open court and you bring this to trial, it will look like a destruction of evidence because all of the evidence is not reported to us at that point in time,” said Bradley.
So how can turning off the cameras weigh in a case?
District Attorney Amy Weirich told us earlier this month it boiled down to creating policy, something MPD has addressed.
“I think for the most part, they are gonna be on most of the time. It’s in very limited circumstances in which the camera is turned off,” Weirich told us in an interview on January 15, 2016.
It’s been an issue in other cities.
Should officers have the discretion of turning the cameras on and off?
When should that happen?
Is crucial information then missed?
“If we have that footage, it will show if the officer is doing their job or not doing their job and if we have nothing to hide, let’s do it,” said Bradley.
MPD Policy and Procedures said an officer must document the reason a camera has been turned off.
No word if that was done at yesterday’s shooting, but all evidence is now being investigated by the TBI.
If there is video they are supposed to review it.