State attorney policy on releasing bodycam footage has changed since last year

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The release of bodycam footage of last week’s traffic stop, hostage situation and officer-involved shooting on Valencia Drive is a change from policy last summer. Previously, video could not be released before a grand jury had reviewed it.

The 19 minutes of footage came out Wednesday.

State Attorney Jack Campbell told WCTV that around the country, law enforcement agencies are taking steps toward greater transparency, letting people know what’s happening faster than the criminal justice system is able to work.

This following video is shows the bodycam footage that was released Wednesday and shows the hostage situation and the shooting.

WARNING: This video is graphic in nature, and is not suitable for all viewers.

Campbell said the policy change has been an evolution, but last summer, there was an investigation involving a high-publicity search warrant where the body camera footage was released. He said that was the final push to change his policy.

“I vowed that day, and that’s what you’re seeing; I will no longer send an e-mail instructing people to release bodycam. If we’re going to release it in one case, we need to release it in every case, whether we’re doing great stuff, or whether we’re showing stuff that maybe, we wish we had done it differently,” said Campbell.

WCTV asked Campbell if the release of bodycamera footage will be the new standard; he says that is ultimately up to the law enforcement agency, but in his capacity as State Attorney, he will no longer be requesting any delay.

In the video, voices have been altered and faces blurred to protect any victims under Marsy’s Law. Campbell says there are also times when a person who is undercover needs to have their identity redacted.

The police investigation needs to be complete before a Grand Jury can review the incident. Campbell said he does not know how long that will take. He says May is his optimistic date for the Grand Jury to convene, but it could be later.

Campbell also had a message for anyone who may view the footage, reminding citizens that in reality, police work is nothing like what you may watch on a television show. He said it is certainly not appropriate for children, and adults should make sure they are emotionally prepared before viewing the video.

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