After releasing body camera footage depicting the controversial shooting death of Dylan Noble, 19, Fresno California Police Chief Jerry Dyer has aroused raucous debate concerning the ethical nature of allowing such video to open public domain.
In the wake of contentious encounters with civilians, national law enforcement agencies are striving for increased accountability by equipping officers with body cameras.
These cameras accurately record the entirety of officer/civilian interactions.
While Dyer plans to have the majority of his officers equipped with body cameras soon, public footage release will not become a commonality.
Chief Dyer stated his decision to release the disturbing footage was partly borne from a desire to appease his community in the wake of Noble’s tragic death. The following is per the L.A. Times.
“I anticipate that some of this video will answer many of the questions out there in this community. However, I believe this video is also going to raise questions in the minds of people, just as those questions exist in my mind as well.”
An unarmed Noble was gunned down by Los Angeles officers after failing to comply with repeated demands to either show his hands, lift his arms, or lie on the ground.
The responding officers felt imminently threatened when Nobles reached for an object in his back pocket. As the first two shots hit the unstable teenager, while laying prone, he continued reaching in the waistband of his shorts for an unidentified object. This prompted officers to fire two more shots at Nobles, who was later revealed to be reaching for a 4-inch plastic container filled with malleable clay.
When queried, Dyer declined comment concerning his officers’ conduct in Nobles’ death. Currently, the LAPD, Fresno County District Attorney’s office, U.S. Attorney General’s office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are all investigating the case.
While public demands for justice were stirred pursuant to the release of a witnesses’ mobile-phone recording, this recording only showed the two final shots fired upon Nobles.
Chief Dyer admitted those two shots were cause for concern as they mightn’t have been necessary.
Dyer’s release of the body-camera video undoubtedly quells any remaining public inquiries concerning the situation leading to Dylan Nobles’ death.
Even so, hundreds of L.A. residents gathered in public protest calling for justice and an end to police brutality. Equipped with signs and banners, demonstrators marched to Fresno city hall, police headquarters and the local jail.
The event’s organizer, 20-year-old Justice Medina, was arrested en route to the Wednesday-afternoon rally. Medina was booked on suspicion of protest and blocking city streets without a permit according to Los Angeles police.
In light of recent turbulent events creating national outrage toward law enforcement, Plumas County Sheriff’s deputy and in-house, use-of-force case lawyer Ed Obayashi stated:
“Chief Dyer decide here, ‘Why should I wait under this national climate to release this vital information?’ The public, he believes, can see what happened. There is nothing to hide here.”
Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union believes while Dyer’s intent is commendable, the video still raises questions regarding the officers’ discretion in firing the fatal, final rounds.
“This is in no way a clear-cut exoneration of the officers. The video raises questions about shooting.”
Conversely, police-shootings expert Charles Heal stated, “Not only did he (Noble) choose not to comply, he knowingly exacerbated the situation with behaviors that would arouse the fears of even casual observers.”
Both of the officers involved in Nobles’ shooting have remained unnamed amid numerous personal threats according to Dyer.
Entities which have power to review officer body camera footage in Los Angeles include the department’s Civilian Overseers, Police Commission, Inspector General and City and District Attorney’s offices.
[Image via Fresno Police Department/AP]