Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement Wednesday in response to Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts’ transparent attempt to deflect responsibility for her failed leadership and secrecy in the wake of her city’s riots onto others:
“Let me be clear – Mayor Jennifer Roberts has a moral obligation to the citizens of Charlotte to release all police videos related to the Keith Scott incident immediately.
“First she botched her city’s response to last week’s riots – from initially brushing off Gov. Pat McCrory’s multiple offers of state resources, like the National Guard, to ignoring repeated calls from her community and the press for transparency and answers.
“Now she wants a new state law related to police body cameras repealed – but why? Is she afraid she will be sued and forced to release the videos, as the law will make possible? Without it in place, she can continue to stonewall and keep videos secret from the public.
“Her complete failure in leadership illustrates the exact problem the law was designed to address: helping safeguard against when politicians like Jennifer Roberts make the wrong call like refusing to release all police footage related to this incident to the public. If she is really concerned about transparency, she can and should release all videos – right now.
“Roy Cooper should join me in calling on Mayor Roberts to release all police videos related to the Keith Scott case and denounce her foolish argument against a law he supports that was designed to keep politicians like her accountable.”
Background on Law
A new state law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and becomes effective on October 1 does not prevent local governments and police departments from releasing video footage from police body cameras and dashboard cameras. In fact, it actually requires release of that footage upon a judge's order.
Right now, policies on releasing video footage vary from county to county. But under the current law, one thing is true statewide: the decision on whether to release video footage is left up to politicians.
That’s why the new law establishes a uniform legal process across the entire state, and makes clear that the decision of whether to release that footage will be up to our courts, not politicians. The law ensures the decision will be made by a judge who we expect will review all evidence and make a thoughtful decision not based on politics.
The current situation in Charlotte is just one relevant example. While Mayor Jennifer Roberts refuses to release all video, there is very little, if any, recourse to go to court to challenge her decision under current law.
By contrast, the new law allows citizens the opportunity to go to court and ask a judge to release the footage when government officials refuse. Under the new law, Mayor Roberts’ decision could be overruled and the video released over her objection.