MINNEAPOLIS (AP) 07/26 — Minneapolis officials plan to announce changes Wednesday to the police department’s policy on body cameras following this month’s killing of an unarmed Australian woman who was shot by a police officer after she called 911.
Mayor Betsy Hodges and Acting Police Chief Medaria Arradondo were expected to announce the changes at a 10 a.m. news conference.
Justine Damond, a 40-year-old spiritual teacher and bride-to-be, was shot by Officer Mohamed Noor after she called 911 to report hearing a possible sexual assault behind her home. Noor’s partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, told investigators he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached their police SUV. Noor, who was in the passenger seat, shot Damond through the driver-side window.
Neither officer had a body camera running at the time and there was no dashcam video, either.
Hodges has said officers should turn their body cameras on whenever they respond to a call. In a blog posting last week, she said she expects the police department “to make any and all changes needed to our policy so that we can be sure we will have body cam footage when we need it.”
Former police Chief Janee Harteau, who resigned at the mayor’s request last week, also said the cameras should have been on.
The police department had been reviewing its body camera policy before Damond was killed.
Minneapolis launched a body camera pilot project in November 2014, just months after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Minnesota’s largest city began to roll out the technology throughout the department last summer and the cameras have been deployed department-wide for about eight months.
The current policy requires officers to turn on their cameras in more than a dozen situations, including for a traffic stop, search of a person or building, any contact involving criminal activity and before the use of force. In the last instance, the policy says if officers can’t turn cameras on before using force they should do so afterward, as soon as it’s safe.
Data from March released by the Minneapolis Police Department and published by television station KSTP show that officers wearing body cameras there recorded a little less than 20 minutes of footage for every eight-hour shift. Criminal justice experts said that amount of time seemed low.
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