Flagstaff Police respond to questions surrounding last weeks fatal officer involved shooting

July 19th, 2016 at 8:39 PM

The following is an open letter to the community from the Flagstaff Police Department. It is in reference to an Officer involved shooting that resulted in the death of one person. That person was later found to be unarmed at the time of the shooting, but was seen earlier with a weapon by officers.

From the Flagstaff Police Department:

Officer Involved Shooting Flagstaff Police Department July 13, 2016

The Flagstaff Police Department has recently released the video footage and radio recordings of the most recent Officer Involved Shooting that occurred on 7-13-16. This redacted footage was provided to the media and the public at large via the Flagstaff Police Department’s Facebook page. The response has overwhelmingly demonstrated our community’s support for the difficult decisions officers must make under intense pressure. It also has demonstrated the trusting relationship between the community of Flagstaff and its police department. It is truly humbling to our officers and staff. Thank You.
The responses have also shown the deep concern our residents have for each other expressing empathy and care for Mr. Donald Myers, his family and friends. This reaction to the tragedy of any loss of life in our community represents the strong ties we all have to each other in our town. This is what makes the City of Flagstaff a wonderful place to live.
The video and audio footage has also brought some questions to light that the department would like to take an opportunity to clarify. Many of the questions received are in relation to the video depiction. Although the entirety of the officer involved shooting was captured on video, as the last two officer involved shootings have been, much of it has been redacted from public view. This is to protect the privacy rights of Mr. Myers and his family.
Under Arizona Public Records Law the Flagstaff Police Department must balance the public’s right to have information vs. the privacy rights of persons and incidents depicted on body camera footage. The Department has dealt with three shooting incidents wherein the deaths of individuals have been captured on body cameras, most recently the death of Donald Myers. The Department has taken the position that we will not release the actual shooting of an individual to protect the privacy rights of the person killed and their family, and have not done so.

Although news reports of the shooting of Officer Tyler Stewart made it seem as if the news stations had edited the video that is not the case. The media was provided footage that led up to the actual shooting and nothing more.

In the shootings involving Officer Tyler Stewart and Verl Bedonie there was a significant amount of video that led up to the actual shooting incident the Department was able to release. Unfortunately, in the video involving the Myers shooting there is only 17 seconds of video footage prior to the shooting taking place.

The TASER Axon cameras utilized by the Flagstaff Police Department capture 30 seconds of video from the pre-event buffer when an officer activates the camera. This first thirty seconds is video only with no audio. As a result, the shooting was captured on video without the audio for the first 30 seconds.
The video posted on the Flagstaff Police Department page is the only body camera video of this incident. The video is unedited in the first 17 seconds and thereafter the picture is blacked out (redacted) and only the audio can be heard. The video was redacted in accordance with public records law that allows for the protection of the privacy rights of the deceased and his family.

In all cases where video has been released and video held back the Department has provided a written description of the video that was not released. Attached is the written narrative that was provided to the media under their public records requests. In the spirit of transparency and in compliance with the law the Department also released the original 911 call, the radio dispatch traffic of the incident, and the police reports that were available at the time of the request. As this is still under investigation and records are still being created this is an on-going process and as more information becomes available it may be released.

 

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