COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Body camera footage has been released following Saturday’s deadly officer-involved shooting on E. Livingston Avenue.
Columbus police say they will not be releasing the body camera footage from Thursday’s shootout on 1-70. The names of the officers involved in both incidents will remain private citing Marsy’s Law, which protects the identity of any victim of a violent crime.
This new practice by the division is raising concerns among the public because some body camera video is redacted to conceal law enforcement identities.
“We are in a box legally of what we can provide because on the one hand the public demanding information, members of the media demanding information and rightfully so, but on the other the potential violation liability wise and civilly for that victim who is still a victim of a crime,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein.
Marsy’s Law went into effect in 2017 and was expanded in April. Klein said law enforcement is not exempt from this law. When a situation like Saturday or Thursday happens, the city will now determine if the person is considered to be a victim.
In the body camera footage from Saturday, you can hear the deputies and officers being shot taking fire. Law enforcement leaders say that makes them a victim. This is the first time Columbus police have used Marsy’s Law to protect officers’ identities.
“Last week an amendment to the law was passed and signed into law by the governor,” said Columbus Police Deputy Chief Tim Myers. “What that did is for victims of offenses of violence as defined under the revised code they are automatically opted into those protections.”
Klein said the reason body camera footage will not be released from the shootout on I-70 is due to public records law: Ohio revised code section 149.43.
“If an officer was shot like the interstate incident and the officer is grievously injured, it meets an exception within the public records law, which means that document, in this case a body worn camera, is not public record,” Klein said.
Klein said they raised concerns of transparency in these types of situations to state lawmakers before Marsy’s Law passed. Despite the concern, the state decided to move forward without making an exception for law enforcement.
“That was their decision,” Klein said. “The community wants to know the names of the officers involved, but on the other [hand] we would be violating, in my opinion, the constitutional rights of the officer under Marsy’s law if we gave you the name.”
The city attorney said that public records law for body cam footage changed four or five years ago. He says they checked with other large cities in the state, and they are following the same practices too.
The city said they still plan to release as much footage as possible in these situations as long as it follows the law.