COLORADO, USA — There are at least two use of force cases testing a new state law on police body camera footage – HB12-1250 requires the release of body-work camera recordings within 21 days of request for incidents in which there is a complaint of officer misconduct.
The law says if release of the footage would interfere or jeopardize an investigation, the release can be delayed up to 45 days.
A defendant can also object during the 21 days to release of footage if criminal charges have been filed – Gov. Polis signed the bill into law in early July.
Former Idaho Springs police officer Nicholas Hanning was charged with third-degree assault after he tased a 75-year-old man. He lost his job after the May encounter.
"My office has never been ordered to release body cam or dash cam footage to the general public," said 5th Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum. "So, that piece of it is new."
That changed for DA McCollum two weeks ago. She said her office requested a hearing a in mid-July to make sure they were complying with this new state law.
Hanning didn't object to the release of the footage and the judge ordered DA McCollum's office to release all of the video by July 29th. Her office plans to release it this week.
9NEWS has the video now because the 75-year-old man's attorney already made it public.
DA McCollum said the new law could present challenges. Her office wants to follow it, but they also want to prosecute a fair trial.
"Some of the challenges at least my office has found is that there are a lot of interests that need to be balanced," she said. "We have to take into account the constitutional rights of the defendant. We have to take into account the rights of a victim."
She added, "We need to do everything we can to guarantee the defendant gets a fair trial. If the trial is not fair for the defendant, there’s going to be an appeal and then we are going to go right back to the beginning."
The measure allows defendant's to object to the video's release in a pending criminal case. Hanning didn't do that, but this wasn't the case in a Weld County court on Friday.
Greeley Police officer Ken Amick was placed on unpaid leave after being accused of using excessive force during an arrest in June. Greeley Police said Officer Ken Amick put a 36-year-old man in a chokehold and then kneed the man in the leg. Amick was charged with felony assault.
The defense for Amick filed an objection to prevent his body cam from being released before trial. The judge ruled in their favor.
"I think in these cases, it will play out," said State Representative Leslie Herod, a sponsor of this bill. "We will eventually see what is on that body camera footage they are trying to hide."
Herod said this law is about transparency and accountability.
The DA's office in Weld County sided with Amick's defense team, believing it was inappropriate to release body camera footage in a pending case. According to an office spokesperson, the office has an ethical obligation to protect the integrity of a pending prosecution.
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