MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama lawmaker is calling for more transparency when it comes to the release of police body camera video.
Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) said it’s in the public interest to see what happens during certain interactions with police. She said she’s filing a bill that would allow for the timely release of video once a situation is in question.
“It creates a system where they can properly request to see some of the information, information that gives them an indication of who killed my loved one,” Givan said.
The Alabama Supreme Court in 2021 essentially said law enforcement does not have to turn over video involving a fatal shooting because it was considered exempt as an investigative record.
Givan pointed out the importance of releasing police video, noting what happened in Tennessee earlier this year with the death of Tyre Nichols.
She said Alabama needs to ensure evidence is made public.
“If you look across this country, most states are doing that,” Givan said. “Why? Because it’s in the best interest of the public. It’s in the best interest of the press. It’s in the best interest of the people involved.”
Givan does not believe the release of video will interfere with an investigation or the judicial process.
“What will happen to the issue of whether it will taint the jury pool or interfere with the rules of discovery, rule 26 or voir dire?” Givan said. “I’ve been a lawyer for 20 years now. I say absolutely nothing.”
House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said law enforcement does have body cameras and transparency is important. He says the body will consider the bill.
“I think as a whole, the state across law enforcement has body cameras, making it more transparent may be something we need to do,” Ledbetter said. “I think that’s something that we will be discussing going forward.”
Givan says she’s brought this bill up in previous sessions and plans to have it filed by Tuesday.