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Austin delays releasing video of protester injuries, saying it would affect investigation

Friday, July 17, 2020 by Audrey McGlinchy, KUT

The Austin Police Department says it will delay the release of body camera footage from officers who caused serious injuries to demonstrators during the first weekend of protests against police killings and systemic racism in Austin.

“In consultation with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, the videos related to the critical incidents from the recent protest-related uses of force will not be released during the initial 60-day timeframe because doing so could potentially impact the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigations into the incidents,” APD said in a press release.

At least 10 people were seriously injured during protests the last weekend in May, including a 20-year-old college student who was hospitalized in critical condition after being hit in the head with a lead pellet-filled bag fired from a shotgun. During a City Council meeting days later, hundreds of people testified by phone, decrying the use of tear gas and lead-pellet bags by police.

An APD policy that went into effect in May says videos from incidents involving serious injuries or death will be released to the public within 60 days of the event. The policy also states that if the department decides to delay the release of video footage, it must reassess this decision every 30 days.

City Manager Spencer Cronk recently delayed the release of video footage related to the police killing of Mike Ramos, after the police department violated its own policy when it failed to consult the Office of Police Oversight during the production process. Ramos, who was Black and Hispanic, was shot and killed by APD Officer Christopher Taylor in late April.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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