Will the public see Northland shooting body cam footage?

Jan 3, 2020

Should body camera footage of an officer-involved shooting be released to the public by the Buffalo Police Department? It's a question that doesn't have a black and white answer among Common Council members.

During a late-December traffic stop, a 30-year-old male was shot by Buffalo Police on Northland Avenue. While the shooting is still under investigation, questions have been raised if the department should release police body-worn camera footage of the incident.

This is the first officer-involved shooting to take place since the city issued the cameras in spring of 2019. Common Council President Darius Pridgen said he fought hard for body cams and the transparency they provide.

“At the end of the day I know the investigation is going on, so I wouldn’t want to see something released before the investigation is done," said Pridgen. "But the reason for those cameras are for transparency. So sooner or later, that footage will be released, I would assume.”

Not all of Pridgen’s fellow councilmembers share his view. North District member Joe Golombek said releasing the footage could open up the city to liability.

“I’m sort of mixed on that because of the legal issues when the city of Buffalo is being challenged in court," Golombek said. "There is policy and legal precedent set where we can hold onto something. So I wouldn’t want to prejudicial anybody one way or the other. I’m not really sure what should be done. That’s something that the lawyers are going to have to argue out.”

The man shot in the traffic stop was taken into custody for a parole violation and was transported to Erie County Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.