A North Carolina law that goes into effect exactly one week after the Keith Lamont Scott police shooting video was released effectively keeps the public from viewing or obtaining police video from dashboard or body cameras unless a judge rules to release it.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the legislation into law two months ago, has said that the law, which begins Oct. 1, would balance “public trust” with the rights and safety of police officers.
“One viewpoint of a video doesn’t often always tell the whole story,” McCrory said, according to CNN. “The angles can make a difference, and [you’re] not hearing [the sound] often in the video, so that [adds to] the complexity. The video is one piece of evidence. We have to be careful.”
CNN reports that under current North Carolina law, dashboard cameras are considered public record, making such footage subject to open-records requests. With the new law, both types of video—dashcam and body cam—would no longer be considered part of the public record. Police departments would therefore have more discretion as to whether they release the videos.
Any denied requests could be appealed before a judge, according to the law.
Ironically, McCrory had to call a state of emergency in North Carolina after the police shooting of Scott sparked days of protest—both because of the actual shooting itself and because officials did not immediately release the officer’s video footage of the confrontation.
Until as recently as this Saturday, hours before the tape was released, protesters continued to shout, “No tapes, no peace!”
Karen Anderson, executive director of the ACLU’s North Carolina chapter, notes that if the Scott shooting had happened after Oct. 1, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department could have kept the videos out of public view unless otherwise ordered by a court.
Anderson, who called the McCrory-backed law “disgraceful,” believes that the new changes could undermine transparency at a delicate time for police relations with members of the community.
“What we already know is that far too many people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law-enforcement officers across the country,” Anderson said in a statement. “We were once again harshly reminded that North Carolina is not immune to that reality.”
Read more at CNN.