“The results of the shooting (investigation) will determine the officer’s employment status,” Shields said at Tuesday’s public safety committee meeting. “I don’t see us firing an officer for not turning on their camera.”
The shooting is being investigated by the GBI, which is standard in officer-involved shootings. However, Councilman Antonio Brown questioned the strength of the investigation, asking “How do you get the full scope of the story if there were no cameras in place to tell what actually happened?”
“I want this investigation to have a chance to play out…there is the chance that the officer did use discretion and did what they had to do, and I’m not going to dismiss that (entirely),” Shields said. She said such investigations were conducted before body cameras were in use.
The lack of body camera footage revives earlier issues Atlanta police have had with body cameras. A 2018 audit found the Atlanta police department’s officers routinely failed to turn them on.
The department has since changed its policies to require that body-worn cameras be on from the start to the end of a call. This shooting, however, prompted Shields to ask for a body-worn camera system that automatically activates the camera when an officer unholsters their firearm.
Costs for the proposed body cameras were not readily available at Tuesday’s meeting.
Shields could not provide an estimate of how many Atlanta officers have body-worn cameras but said most of the uniform personnel have them.
“I think our first priority is to get all of the officers with a body camera,” Atlanta City Council president Felicia Moore said. “If we’re going to invest in it let’s get everybody equipped.”
But with the pending departmental changes, Cain’s family still wonders why his death could not be avoided.
“Body cameras are supposed to stop speculation,” Cain’s sister Shakina Cosby said. “That’s what my brother stood for.”
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In related news:
Oscar Cain rallies supporters of body cameras before leading them into the Atlanta City Council's public safety meeting where several of them gave public comment.