District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis on Friday released video of three San Diego police officer-involved shootings, a reversal of her previous declarations that all such footage would be treated as evidence to be seen only in court. All officers' shootings were found to be justified, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
"The position represents a major departure from historical practices, but we recognize the times have changed," Dumanis said in a news briefing at her offices. "... This is really new territory."
She said the legal rights of all the parties involved must be protected and balanced against the public's desire to view such video.
"However, we know we live in a world where all kinds of video evidence is becoming more and more prevalent, as everybody uses their iPhones and androids and tablets, and they can go viral in minutes," Dumanis said.
In the three review letters released Friday, all officers were found justified in shooting men they knew or believed were armed. One controversial fatal encounter in the Gaslamp District last fall involved two officers who fired repeatedly at a man who raised a gun in their direction twice, including after he was wounded. His gun turned out to be a fake.
Dumanis said she will release video, if it exists, from every officer-involved shooting unless the officer is to be charged with a crime. Then, she said, the video will be withheld until it is produced in a courtroom.
Leaders of all the local law enforcement agencies in the county, including San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, agree that pertinent video of officer-involved shootings should be released whenever possible, Dumanis said.