SPD's North Precinct equips officers with body cameras

KING 5's Elisa Hahn reports.

The Seattle Police Department is equipping another precinct's officers with body cameras.

The North Precinct, whose officers were involved in the deadly shootings of Che Taylor and Charleena Lyles, is next on the list.

On Tuesday, a group of bike officers patrolling the Ballard neighborhood were wearing the Axon body-worn cameras. Each one mounted to the front of their uniform or bulletproof vest.

The officers can review the video on their cell phone and tag the footage with data from the actual incident. They can also use their phones as a viewfinder for positioning the camera. The goal is to show the person they're interacting with, from the torso up. 

To show you what the video looks like, KING 5 obtained footage through a public disclosure request, when SPD West Precinct officers responded to an overdose call a week ago.  An officer delivered a dose of Narcan to the man, who was unconscious in the video, possibly saving his life.

You can see a wide-angle view around the officer, almost the same as a person's field of vision. 

While the cameras can capture acts of heroism, they can also enhance public trust after police shootings.

"We can see it with our own eyes," said Andre Taylor. "We don't have to necessarily take law enforcement's word for it."

Taylor has been pushing for more police accountability since Seattle Police officers shot his brother last year. The two officers testified Che Taylor was reaching for a gun. A dashboard camera recording in-car video did not capture Taylor's actions.

"We would have loved to have had those officers in that close setting," said Taylor. "We would have loved to have seen what happened there."

Body worn cameras could have also helped last summer when North Precinct officers went to Charleena Lyles' apartment to answer a burglary call. Officers say she suddenly pulled at least one knife on them, but the hallway surveillance camera only showed part of the officers' actions.

Her cousin Katrina Johnson agreed with Andre Taylor, saying the cameras are "a step in the right direction."

"But they're only good if they stay on," said Johnson.

According to SPD policy, officers must have the cameras on when answering calls, except under a few circumstances.

All of the North Precinct officers should be wearing the cameras by Friday, October 13, according to the department.

© 2017 KING-TV


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