Herring opinion: Families should get police shooting footage

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Video footage of police shootings must be released to a victim’s family after an investigation closes unless specific exemptions apply, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in an opinion issued Friday.

The opinion was written in response to an inquiry spurred by the case of an 18-year-old who was fatally shot by Roanoke County police officers in 2016, the Roanoke Times reported.

Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, requested the opinion last year in a letter that invoked Kionte Spencer’s case. Spencer’s brother has been shown a compilation of video from that night but has been seeking the full, unedited footage, according to the newspaper.

In his opinion, Herring wrote that under a new transparency bill lawmakers passed earlier this year, police recordings are public records and must be released once an investigation concludes unless the footage can be withheld under one of the exemptions allowed. And even where an exception applies, then release is discretionary, Herring wrote.

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