New push to see Cleveland police deadly force video sooner: I-Team

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a push to let you see body camera video within hours of every time Cleveland police use deadly force.

City hall usually holds back that video for months.

But Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek is proposing a new law requiring the city to release body camera video in these cases within 24 hours.

“It will put to rest a lot of the suspicions that are somehow out there in the community. That somehow there’s a cover-up,” Polensek said. “Video does not lie.”

His proposal comes after what happened this month when a Cleveland officer shot and killed a murder suspect with a gun.

The police department quickly released that video, and it ended any mystery about what happened. The video showed the suspect with a gun in his hand encountering the officer.

Polensek said he commends the chief for getting that video out right away, and it should be done like that in all similar situations.

When police video is withheld by city hall after use-of-force cases, that often leads to protesting.
So, we asked Black Lives Matter in Cleveland about the difference the new law could make on the streets.

“Oftentimes people are protesting just because they want transparency. They want to see the video,” Kareem Henton said. “We don’t always know exactly what happened, but whose fault is that? That’s the fault of the decision making on the part of the city where they choose not to release that.”

Typically, to see any police video, for example, the I-Team has to file a records request through a city website.

Before that video gets released, it gets reviewed at the city law department. That video can sit and sit in the law department without being released. Many times we get no explanation for the hold-up.

Recently, we’ve seen immediate release of video in police shootings in Columbus and Minnesota.

So, the councilman said now make it a habit here.

“Everyone knows I’m for law enforcement. At the same time, I’m for transparency. I’m for professional conduct. I’m for accountability,” Polensek said.

The mayor’s office issued a one-line statement after an inquiry from the I-Team, saying, “It would be premature for us to comment before the legislation has been reviewed.”

The idea is just at the very beginning stages of becoming a full proposal.

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