HPD keeps promise and continues to release body cam videos to public

ByCourtney Carpenter KTRK logo
Saturday, July 17, 2021
What is allowed to be left out of body cam video?
Since the community demanded transparency regarding body cam video from HPD, Mayor Sylvester Turner promised in April that video of critical incidents will be released within 30 days. Now, videos of three recent incidents were released this week. ABC13's Courtney Carpenter reports on the police's union's stance on this step and what is allowed to be left out of the videos.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After promises from Mayor Sylvester Turner for more transparency from the Houston Police Department, specifically as it relates to body camera videos, we are starting to see more of those videos released. The first of these videos was released in early June.

READ ALSO: 1st police-worn body camera footage released under HPD's new policy

The case involved four officers shooting and killing an armed man, but its significance is intertwined with a critical shift within Houston police.

Thursday was the first time video from three different incidents were sent out all at once.

The videos are posted to HPD's social media accounts and are age restricted. HPD posted a video featuring an officer explaining the incidents and body cam videos from the responding officers.

On Thursday, they released video from a death-in-custody that happened June 16 on Westward Street and two officer-involved shootings that happened on June 20. One happened on West Greens Road and the other on Tri Oaks Lane. All were released within the promised thirty day mark.

Doug Griffith, the president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, said this level of transparency with the body cam footage is something he's been pushing for.

"Now, you get to see the entire interaction with our officers and see that, in almost every case, the officer was attacked or fired upon first," he said. "Four out of our last five, the officers were fired on before they ever fired their weapon, and it shows the public what we truly have to deal with on a day-in day-out basis."

READ ALSO: HPD officer fires at shotgun-wielding woman during Kingwood domestic disturbance call

Some parts of the released videos are blurred out or redacted, but why?

Houston police said there are many reasons why video gets redacted.

Some redactions are required by state law. They also will blur out video that shows license plates, driver licenses or any other items that can link back to personal information.

Video is typically redacted if an undercover officer's face is shown, if it would give away a police tactic, and in the case the incident happens on private property, video will be redacted if permission is not given by the property owner.