Arrest in Fort Collins’ Old Town fans body camera debate

Fort Collins Coloradoan: In the span of a week, the online publication of a nine-second video of a woman’s arrest in Fort Collins catapulted the scene outside an Old Town bar to an international stage.

During that same week, Fort Collins police leadership has said that officers’ body-mounted cameras captured at least two different perspectives from the now-viral arrest of 22-year-old Michaella Surat. The footage captured could provide context of the minutes leading up to Surat’s arrest, but it remains under wraps, even as the officer involved has been placed on leave pending an investigation into his use of force.

So, why hasn’t the department released the potentially clarifying evidence and put an end to this a public relations headache?

It comes down to due process and precedent.

“Fort Collins Police Services is committed to releasing the videos for the sake of transparency, but not to the detriment of the rights of those involved,” the agency said in a written statement. “As such, we have a duty to try to limit publicity during the pending investigation and Ms. Surat’s court proceedings. Balancing the need for the community to view the body camera video and Ms. Surat’s right to a fair trial is a complex issue.”

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