MANHATTAN (CN) – Finding that the need for police scrutiny outweighs officer privacy, a New York appeals court rejected Tuesday a challenge from the city’s largest police union that would have blocked public access to body-cam footage of three police-related shootings.
“To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the body-worn-camera program to promote increased transparency and public accountability,” a three-judge panel of the New York Appellate Division’s First Department unanimously found.
Portions of all three videos the union wants to make secret have already been published by the news media: The first two depict the fatal shootings that killed Miguel Antonio Richards and Cornell Lockhart in the Bronx on Sept. 6, 2017, and the third show a non-fatal shot that injured Hamilton Heights resident Paris Cummings on Oct. 22, 2017.
The Washington-based advocacy group Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press led more than a dozen media organizations in a joined the fight to release additional footage in a friends-of-the-court brief.
The signatories included Hearst Corporation, the Associated Press, BuzzFeed, CNN, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Daily News, Dow Jones, Gannett, Gizmodo, New York Public Radio, the New York Times, the New York Post, and Spectrum News NY1.
Representing roughly 36,000 officers, the PBA hired one of President Donald Trump’s personal law firms for the fight: the New York-based Kasowitz Benson Torres.
“We respectfully disagree with the ruling and will be appealing to the Court of Appeals,” the firm’s partner Michael Bowe wrote in an email, referring to the state’s highest court.
Attorneys for the city and media coalition did not immediately respond Tuesday to email requests for comment.