What happens to body cam footage after fatal police shootings?

Too often, these videos stay hidden.

Miranda Bogen
Mar 1, 2018 · 9 min read
  • Is footage release timely? Is video released as soon as possible, or is it withheld for an extended period?
  • Is footage release consistent? Is video from a jurisdiction always treated the same way, or does it vary by incident?
  • Is footage release mandatory? Does a binding policy or law compel footage release under a clear set of written guidelines?

Is body-worn footage of fatal police shootings released?

We found that, of the 105 police killings captured by body-worn cameras last year, footage was not made public in 40 of these cases.

Days until release of available body-worn camera footage,
for all fatal police shootings in 2017.

Is body-worn camera footage release timely?

Among the 65 cases where footage was made public, the median time to release was nine days after the incident. In three cases, including the fatal shooting of Eric Garrison in Baltimore, departments released footage on the same day as the incident.

Is body-worn camera footage of police shootings consistently released?

We were encouraged to see some departments regularly sharing video from all recorded incidents, often within a defined timeframe.

Is footage release mandated by policy or law?

Some police departments are compelled to release footage by state or local laws or policies. The strongest such policies mandate the release of critical footage within a certain number of days.

Texas S.B. 158 (emphasis added)

Equal Future

Social justice & technology.

Miranda Bogen

Written by

Senior Policy Analyst at @teamupturn, focused on algorithmic fairness, automation and international tech policy.

Equal Future

Social justice & technology.