DC’s Metropolitan Police Department is releasing body camera footage from three police killings that occurred in 2018, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in a press conference on Friday. The recordings are connected to the shootings of Marqueese Alston and D’Quan Young, as well as Jeffrey Price, who died after a fatal collision with a police car.
The mayoral announcement comes two months after protests gripped Washington, and the rest of the country, following the killings George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Bowser, who has been viewed with a certain amount of skepticism by police critics, turned 16th Street into Black Lives Matter Plaza and painted an iconic Black Lives Matter mural that spanned several blocks close to the White House.
But in terms of today’s news, the more significant change was an emergency measure unanimously passed by the DC Council about a week later. The police-reform measure included mandatory release of body camera footage “after any officer-involved death or serious use of force.” The legislation was later revised to allow families veto power against the release of video, and also gave police five days rather than three to provide footage.
For some, today’s news is a long fought for victory: Marqueese Alston’s mother recently announced a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the District of Columbia and MPD on the two year anniversary of her son’s shooting. The legal action came after more than a year of fighting for the public release of body-camera recordings. While footage from four other officer-involved deaths in the District exist, they are not being released out of respect for family wishes.
In today’s press conference, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue noted the videos may not paint a complete picture of the incidences. For example, the officer who shot Young was off duty at the time and not wearing a body camera. Footage of the shooting comes from a nearby recreation center and does not include audio.
“The videos are just not going to resolve every question that people would ideally like the video to answer and they may never,” says Donahue.