BEXAR COUNTY, Texas — Bexar County Sheriff’s Office withholds video of shooting and standoff in first test of 10-day video release policy, though Sheriff Javier Salazar says it’s the “thing decent and fair”.
Robert Inosencio, 18, was found dead at the end of a standoff on April 5 that began with a deputy shot and wounded while trying to arrest Inosencio on two felony warrants at a Far West Side home . It is not yet known if the deputies shot Inosencio or if he committed suicide.
It was the first critical incident since Sheriff Salazar agreed in February that his office abide by a 10-day release policy similar to that of the SAPD, which county commissioners adopted in December.
However, on Thursday – 10 working days after the impasse – BCSO announced on Facebook that it would not post the video, at the family’s request.
On Friday, BCSO provided KSAT with a copy of a signed statement from Inosencio’s mother stating that she had seen video of the shooting involving her son and his deputies, and “after reviewing the video, I have decided that I wouldn’t want it made public and kept private for the ongoing legal process.
The policy, which commissioners approved at a Dec. 7 meeting, is similar to that used by San Antonio police, although it uses a 10-day time limit for video instead of a 60-day time limit. days. Commissioners have agreed not to fund further body camera purchases unless the requesting agency adopts the policy.
Salazar didn’t agree to the 10-day deadline until two months later, when the commissioners agreed to a bundle deal that included improved body-cam technology, which Salazar said he needed to meet the deadline.
Speaking to KSAT on Friday, Salazar said the video was complete and ready to go, and was only being held back due to the family’s wishes.
The sheriff said his agency has its own release policy, which “may have a lot in common with the document presented by the court of commissioners. But ultimately, I set the policy for the sheriff’s office. We have a policy for the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff said he plans to keep a family’s discretion about releasing videos of critical incidents under this policy.
“I think there is definitely a precedent. We’ve seen other agencies that go through this kind of process that they take that into consideration,” Salazar said. “And I mean, and absolutely, you know, the public has a right to know about certain things. However, when it comes to a grieving mother and having to consider those feelings and just trying to do what’s decent and right, I will.
SAPD leader William McManus had refused to release video of a fatal shooting in January 2021 outside South Park shopping center, citing concerns for the mother of the man who was shot by four police officers. SAPD.
The county policy adopted by the commissioners requires that any reason for delaying the release of the video be reviewed by the district attorney “to validate the reason or not.”
It is unclear whether the BCSO policy includes similar language. Although KSAT requested a copy on Friday, it was not provided at press time.
A spokeswoman for the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office told KSAT via email that it was about the meeting between the Inosencio family and BCSO, in which the family said they did not want that the video be released, but “the decision to release the body-worn camera video is within the sheriff’s jurisdiction.
Former Precinct 3 Commissioner Trish DeBerry, who is now running for county judge as a Republican candidate, had lobbied for the 10-day deadline and told KSAT that the April 5 video should have been published.
“We had a deputy sheriff who was injured in action, was hospitalized due to the incident that happened,” DeBerry said Friday. “Often, law enforcement doesn’t have the luxury of deciding, ‘Do we release or don’t we release?’ And so from a consistency standpoint, whether it’s the victim or the law enforcement official, we have to have consistency, and we have a policy in place to release footage within 10 days and there must be consistency.
DeBerry said she has “empathy for the family’s request,” but choosing exceptions becomes a “very slippery slope.”
“When I talk about the slippery slope in terms of the decisions that are being made – the exceptions that are being made at all levels – if we do this and continue to do this, then the policy becomes paper tiger policy with no teeth,” said she declared. mentioned.
Commissioners adopted county policy at a time when Damian Daniels’ family was pushing for the release of the August 2020 video of his shooting death at the hands of a BCSO deputy during a mental health check-up .
The BCSO released the video just under two weeks after commissioners passed the body camera policy.
Ananda Tomas, executive director of the police reform group Act 4 SA, supported the release of video of Daniels’ shooting and the introduction of a short deadline for videos of similar incidents, but she also supports the BCSO’s decision to withhold the video in this case.
“I think it’s good practice to follow,” Tomas said. “In many cases, families want the video released for transparency and accountability. But it’s a very sensitive topic, and their wishes should always come first on whether or not body cam footage is released.
Tomas said she was optimistic about using the 10-day policy and hoped the example would “translate” to SAPD and other local law enforcement.
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