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Public demands Madison Police release body camera video of fatal shooting

Right now, the only video of the shooting we've seen is a cell phone video, which doesn't show the close encounter between Fletcher, his wife and Madison Police.

Posted: Oct 29, 2019 9:06 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 11:35 AM

There are growing calls for Madison Police to release body cam video, of a deadly shooting in a Planet Fitness parking lot.

Officers shot and killed Dana Fletcher as he sat in his van Sunday afternoon. Right now, the only video of the shooting we've seen is a cell phone video, which doesn't show the close encounter between Fletcher, his wife and Madison Police. 

WAAY31 wanted to know what the Madison Police Department's policy is when it comes to storing body camera video, and if we ever might see it.

According to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), each police department is to come up with a body camera policy. The Department of Justice has guidelines for how videos should be stored.

"For me, it's just kind of seeing the body camera footage, seeing what that shows cause right now it's just the police officers word against the wife and her story, they conflict," Adrian Warner, a member of Planet Fitness, said. 

Warner wants to see the officer body camera footage, but he then learned in the state of Alabama, police don't have to show the public.

"Surprised, I figured that was across the board, that the footage would eventually be released. So, it doesn't make sense, if there is nothing wrong, the public should be able to see and make their opinion," Warner said. 

Alabama state law considers police body camera footage as a "privileged communication,: meaning police don't have to release it.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office says they are evaluating the Madison Police body camera footage from that Sunday night.

WAAY31 asked Madison Police what their policy is on storing their officer's video. Major John Stringer said "officers are responsible for uploading body camera footage at the end of each shift." He went on to say the department preserves the footage and limits any access to it. 

Captain Joe Race is part of CALEA, an agency in charge of accrediting police departments across the country. WAAY31 asked if there are more risks if a third-party doesn't help monitor officers as they submit their footage.

"I don't think so, I just think it becomes more of a challenge, you have to assume the officers are doing the right thing," Captain Race said. 

The Department of Justice recommends there be a third-party to oversee the process. The guidelines mention there are disadvantages of officers having to upload their own video, it could be uploaded incorrectly, manipulated, and there is nobody to double check.

Captain Race says many police departments don't have a third-party because it's costly.

"A lot of it comes down to money and resources, to buy that equipment is very expensive, to house the footage is very expensive," Captain Race explained. 

Captain Race says in Connecticut, a law recently passed where police departments can release body camera video 96 hours after a crime. But in Alabama, there's no timeline and unless legislation passes, that won't change.

All the body camera footage is still being investigated. The Madison County Sheriff's Office says there were 5 officers on the scene but it's unclear if all of them had video. 

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