Q: In light of SB 1421 and AB 748, I submitted a request to the city and the police department for the body camera footage and internal affairs investigation report of an incident that happened at my home involving the discharge of a firearm at a person (me) by a peace officer and the use of extreme excessive force.
My requests were denied by both the city and the police department. I have been told by the police department that the body camera footage I requested doesn’t exist, altough by law they are required to retain the footage for a minimum of five years.
A: Since you submitted your inquiry, there have been several developments in lawsuits related to SB 1421. Notably, the FAC prevailed in its lawsuit against the CA Attorney General, which it filed after his office denied a request for police misconduct records. You can read more about that lawsuit here: https://firstamendmentcoalition.org/2019/05/fac-prevails-in-effort-to-force-ca-attorney-general-to-disclose-police-misconduct-files/
Short of initiating a similar lawsuit against the city and police departments, you can write back to them and continue to pressure them to comply with the law. A number of police departments were denying requests for police misconduct records because they were following the lead of the Attorney General’s office. Hopefully, the positive decision in the FAC’s case against the Attorney General will result in the release of records by those police departments.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.