In wake of police shooting, a familiar refrain: Where's the body camera footage?

In the aftermath of a police shooting in North Minneapolis over the weekend, a familiar refrain can be heard echoing throughout the community, emanating from homes, parks and businesses: Where is the officers' body camera footage?

For those who live in the neighborhood and say they harbor a healthy skepticism of police, it's the only thing they might fully believe.

"If [the officers] got nothing to hide, I'd be throwing it out there," said Valerie Green, who lives in north Minneapolis. "Look, it's the truth."

According to authorities, the incident began Saturday when an anonymous 911 caller reported a man was walking around with a gun on the 4700 block of Bryant Avenue North. The caller "provided very detailed information about the appearance and descriptions," according to an MPD spokesperson.

Police then reported a second call of a person in the area walking and firing a silver 9mm handgun into the air and subsequently into the ground.

Thurman Blevins was reportedly sitting with a woman near the intersection of 48th and Camden Avenues North when officers pulled up, according to a preliminary report from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation released Monday. He immediately fled the scene, with police reporting he was carrying a gun. Sometime during the ensuing chase officers fired their weapons, striking and killing Blevins. 

Officials said police body cameras captured the entire incident, though the footage was turned over--along with the rest of the investigation--to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, standard procedure for police shootings in the state of Minnesota.

Under state law the video is only public record after any criminal investigations conclude, a process that's likely to take months. Despite this, there are exemptions under the statute allowing evidence to be released if it will "promote public safety, or dispel widespread rumor or unrest"—things there are certainly plenty of in this instance. 

The shooting took place in the ward of Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who today got all of his fellow council members to sign a letter asking the BCA to release the body camera footage as soon as legally possible.  

"Let’s just see the body camera footage and it will answer all the questions that come to mind," he said Monday.

Police Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Kroll also called for the footage to be released Sunday evening, saying in a press conference the incident is an example of the "heroic" work done every day by officers in the department.

"We’d like it released as soon as possible, but that’s in the hands of the BCA," he said. And we think when its released it is going to change the public sentiment from condemning to commending the officers for their heroic actions that night.”

Some 600 Minneapolis Police officers now wear body cameras, at a cost of $4 million to roll out the technology. In light of recent events, however, police, politicians and neighbors alike all seem to be wondering aloud if it's enough given the amount of time it takes for the public to see the video.

"If they do show the video it would be like the other side of the story," Green said. "It’s just one sided right now.”