ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis and the nation are seeing an increase in calls for police transparency. Where do Missouri and Illinois stand when it comes to releasing body camera video of shootings?
There's a major difference in the laws on releasing police body cam video in Missouri and Illinois. In Missouri, it's weighted toward protecting the privacy of those on the video and protecting the investigation. In Illinois, the law leans heavily toward transparency and releasing said videos.
The shooting of Terry Tillman happens in the a matter of seconds. A Richmond Heights Police officer calls out “where’s he at?” and runs up the exterior stairs of the parking garage of Simmons Bank across from the Galleria Mall.
It was only two weeks after the fatal police shooting in an alley of 13-year old Adam Toledo that Chicago police released the police body cam video. But in Missouri, videos don't get released until a case is closed. Exceptions can be made as long as police and prosecutors agree it won't harm a case, they can agree to release video. But generally police in Missouri take a conservative approach and stick to the letter of the law.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said he's working toward more transparency and early release of videos involving police shootings. "We're trying to build trust and I think it's important to be as transparent as possible," Bell said.
The laws in Illinois on releasing police video of any kind are considered lenient. Any person can go to their local police department to request any video. If there's dash cam video of you getting a speeding ticket, you can request that too. But police may have to take time to blur faces to protect the identity of those who may not have been involved.
The one roadblock to releasing video is whether a prosecutor believes it could jeopardize an ongoing case. That's an important reason behind Missouri's more restrictive law.
"We also have an ethical obligation to do what we can to ensure that a defendant has a fair a constitutionally fair trial," Bell said.
In Illinois, if a request for video is denied, you can file an appeal with the Illinois attorney general's office. Its decision will look at whether the release might compromise an ongoing case. But the attorney general's office has the final word on releasing police body cam video.
Bell said he'd like to see a policy in St. Louis County of releasing video regularly after something like a 45-day period.