Some 50 years ago, about the time the “Miranda Warning” became standard procedure, the GUARDIAN was working as the court-police reporter for the once dominant news venue, Idaho Statesman.
In that capacity we joined with the courts and defense lawyers to forge the BENCH-BAR-PRESS ethical guidelines agreement. In a nutshell it was intended to insure a defendant’s right to a fair trial while also preserving the public’s “right to know.”
With the advent of the internet, unlimited records access, and cell phone videos those guidelines have fallen by the wayside.
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced Monday that she asked Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts to allow the city to release the body camera video from each of the three recent officer-involved shootings. However, the prosecutor’s office said it would undermine the investigation and “constitutional due process.”
“Release of evidence, including on-body video footage, not only undermines the investigation of Ada County’s Critical Incident Taskforce, which is comprised of law enforcement agencies across Ada County and the Idaho State Police, but it also undermines constitutional due process and the Idaho ethical rules,” Bennetts wrote.
Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee is in an awkward position. He obviously agrees with McLean that body-cam video should be released to inform the public of the actions of his officers and the suspects. Those of us who lived here during the times of frequent police shootings know the damage that can happen to public trust in their police department when facts are unknown.
Chief Lee has to account to the mayor, the prosecutor, The Critical Incident Task Force, The new Office of Police Accountability (ombudsman), and the citizens. And don’t forget the police union. Each has a different authority and influence.
The GUARDIAN applauds the mayor and chief for their efforts to release the video. Even a brief video segment can dispel rumors, quell civil unrest, and show the transparency of the police. Nationwide police are releasing bodycam video in a timely fashion–especially when it helps their image.
Our confidential sources tell us in the North End case of the alleged kidnapping of a juvenile, the suspect was armed with a large knife which he refused to drop.
According to another source, the guy “squatting” on private property on N. 21st pointed a handgun at officers which looked like a .357, but turned out to be a BB gun. A still photo was eventually made public. We have no information on the third shooting where the suspect was said to have rammed police cruisers.
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