MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — After listening to months of citizen complaints regarding the City of Mobile’s policy on the release of body camera footage, the city council started considering an ordinance that could change the city’s procedures.
The complaints come after the family, friends and supporters of Jawan Dallas, a man who died shortly after an encounter with the Mobile Police Department, pleaded to the city council to see body camera footage showing the events leading up to his death.
“This council has legislative authority, and can change the policy legislatively by drafting ordinances,” Katie Herdon, a supporter of the Dallas family, said to the council.
The proposed ordinance, if passed would require the city to release the body camera footage at proper request unless the release of the footage would be “contrary to other applicable law.”
If the city chooses to deny such a request, the ordinance will require that they provide a written statement, providing legal reasons as to why the request cannot be granted, something that is not required under current state law.
Legal reason as to why the city would not be able to grant a request to view body camera footage includes:
- “Applicability of the Grand Jury Secrecy Act.”
- “Pendency of an active criminal investigation involving the recordings.”
- “Any other proper legal basis under the laws of Alabama and/or the United States for denying the request.”
The Grand Jury Secrecy Act prevents those involved in an investigation from disclosing any form of physical evidence to anyone until it is brought before a Grand Jury.
Two weeks ago, the city council wrote a letter to the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office in an effort to expedite the Grand Jury investigation into the death of Jawan Dallas. The quicker the Grand Jury makes a decision, the quicker the family can see the video.
“Many citizens question why they cannot see the footage, just as well as myself,” Mobile City Council President C.J. Small, said. “We’re working with our attorney to make sure we get all our I’s dotted and T’s crossed.”
Mobile Police officers tased Dallas on July 2. He was taken to a local hospital for what police called “a medical emergency,” and later he was pronounced dead.
Officers involved in the tasing were placed on administrative leave; however, they have since been put back out into the field. An internal investigation, according to Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine, showed that officers involved in the death of Jawan Dallas do not pose a threat to everyday society.
The proposed ordinance will go before the city council next week as a first read. As per council rules, the item will be tabled to the following week where it is expected to be voted on.