The move comes after a July announcement in which APD said it would not release the body cam footage on time because doing so might “impact the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigations into the incidents.”
Among the incidents are two high-profile cases. During the protests, Austin police shot 16-year-old boy Brad Levi Ayala in the face with a “less-lethal” bean-bag bullet as he stood alone on a hill, unarmed and only yards away from police officers. Police also shot 20-year-old Justin Howell in the head with the same ammunition.
Ayala and Howell survived but were in critical condition following the incidents. Speaking to City Council in June, Austin-Travis County EMS Chief Ernesto Rodriguez estimated a long and difficult recovery for both victims.
Bystander video of Ayala getting shot in the face went viral, intensifying local protests and prompting calls to defund the police department and to fire Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.
The Sept. 11 announcement from APD said it would not release the body cam footage until the DA made a call on how to handle the cases. District Attorney Margaret Moore’s office did not immediately return calls for comment.
Local criminal justice advocate Chris Harris, who worked to help draft the policy, said the announcement and reasoning from the police department is a “slap in the face to the spirit and letter of the policy.”
“The policy was designed to assume transparency on body cam footage,” Harris said. “There is supposed to be an explicit public safety reason for any exception. We can only assume it’s an effort to shield the department from further negative press.”