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Council chair considers action to force release of bodycam videos in fatal police shooting

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 10:13 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters said he plans to discuss the possibility of legislation or a resolution aimed at pushing the Honolulu Police Department to release bodycam videos from the fatal April 5 police shooting of a teen.

Waters said he reviewed statements on HPD’s own website as to the use of the devices which say:

“The Honolulu Police Department believes transparency is critical in establishing public trust and uses body-worn camera recordings to document police interactions.”

Waters said this statement proves there is no reason why HPD shouldn’t release all video from body cameras using redaction to take out personal information.

“If you want the public trust then that’s what you should do.”

[Related: Bodycam video from fatal police shooting of teen contradicts HPD’s argument for withholding footage]

State Sen. Karl Rhoads is also concerned that the department released bodycam videos from other high profile events last month, but not for this fatal shooting of 16-year old Iremamber Sykap.

“If the stance is going to be, we’re going to release what makes us look good and not release what doesn’t make us look good, in the long run that’s very dangerous. They’re going to lose credibility every time that happens,” Rhoads said.

Video of the shooting obtained by Hawaii News Now through sources show an officer arriving at the scene of Kalakaua Avenue and Phillip Street after a chase.

BWC video that police are refusing to release to the public
BWC video that police are refusing to release to the public(None)

Officers were trying to stop a stolen Honda that was reportedly used in an armed home invasion.

The officer wearing the camera steps behind the Honda and fires 10 rounds. The Honda speeds off, crashing through a fence and plummets down into a canal.

HPD is sticking by their reason to withhold the footage, citing juvenile protection rules because the others in the Honda are suspects in a criminal case.

But you cannot see the faces of anyone in the Honda in the video Hawaii News Now obtained.

Police procedures experts Timothy Williams, a retired Los Angeles Police Officer, said both the public and the departments are harmed when footage is withheld.

“You’ve got to have a policy that’s consistent,” Williams said. “You can’t cherry pick something that may look good for the department and then hold back something that may look bad for the department.”

Waters said he will discuss possible action with other council members to get HPD to release the footage. “I want to support our HPD and I think the community wants to support them,” Water said, “So there’s no reason why they should be withholding this bodycams.”

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