Houston Police to Change Policy on Releasing Body Camera Footage

The decision comes after video was released showing an officer’s fatal shooting of a 26-year-old male.

A string of high profile cases involving police force on civilians has the Houston Police Department (HPD) trying to figure out when and when not to release videos collected by newly-attained body cameras.

Police Chief Charles A. McClelland told the Houston Chronicle on Thursday that he will not hold the release of a video in “anticipation of civil litigation.”

“If we have a body camera video that’s an officer-involved shooting or complaint against one of our officers, if we have completed the administrative investigation, which looks for policy and procedure and training violations, and we have completed the criminal investigation … I’m going to release it,” McClelland said.

RELATED: COPS Releases Guidance on Deploying Body-Worn Cameras

Police Chief Charles A. McClelland said the HPD is changing its policy on when to release the footage and will still seek the guidance of the Office of the Attorney General about when to release a video of a controversial case, especially when an officer is not indicted by a grand jury.

McClelland said the department still needs “some clarity” in those instances because the law only allows for the release of videos after a shooting has been fully adjudicated.

The change in policy comes after McClelland and Houston Mayor Annise Parker made the decision to release surveillance footage of an interaction between Jordan Baker, a 26-year-old African American male, and a police officer that led to the fatal shooting of Baker.

The officer, Juventino Castro, was cleared by a grand jury of any criminal wrongdoing and the HPD denied the request of Baker’s family and community activists seeking the release of the video. The HPD had withheld the video because of potential litigation but Parker ordered the video to be released in order to be transparent.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety HQ