Pueblo police can withhold officer videos when ‘contrary to public interest’

The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo police officers have worn body cameras for two years and those video recordings have provided graphic proof on occasion that officers had to shoot suspects or did so as a last resort.

That was the case when police chased a suspect into the prairie near Praise Assembly church only to have the man shoot first at the pursuing officers. And body cameras showed that two police officers repeatedly urged a mentally ill man to drop his weapons, even as he refused and kept coming at them.

“We’re in a new era of policing,” Pueblo police Chief Luis Velez said Thursday. “Once we released those videos, it was case closed. I had no qualms about doing it.”

The Pueblo department has provided videos when sought by the news media under the Colorado Criminal Records Justice Act. The only caveat is the police have waited until the district attorney’s office has closed an investigation.

There hasn’t been a situation in Pueblo like the one in Charlotte, N.C., where violent protests over a police shooting have erupted. Protesters in Charlotte want police to release the video of the shooting incident.

Colorado’s criminal records law allows Velez to withhold investigative records — like videos — if he believes it would be “contrary to the public interest.”

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