BEGGING THE MASTERS. From [HERE] The Lynchburg Police Department in Virginia declined Tuesday to publicly release officers’ body camera footage of their arrest last week of a Winston-Salem man, saying that the videotapes are part of the criminal investigation in the incident.
Larry Anthony Booker, 31, was arrested during a traffic stop last Wednesday and charged with 11 criminal and traffic offenses, according to arrest warrants.
Police Capt. Nick Leger, a department spokesman, said that his agency typically doesn’t publicly release its officers’ video footage in cases where officers use force to arrest a suspect. Lynchburg police are conducting a routine internal investigation into the matter, Leger said.
“We absolutely take it seriously our police officers’ actions and how they conduct themselves,” Leger said. “There was a lawful detention that precipitated what happened afterward, but that lawful detention doesn’t precipitate a use of excessive force.”
During the arrest, Booker rolled over on an officer, kicked a police dog and tried to escape, Lynchburg police said in a statement. An officer then struck Booker with a baton to stop Booker from kicking the dog and prevent him from resisting arrest, police said. Officers then subdued and handcuffed Booker.
Booker was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital for treatment, police said. Booker was being held Tuesday in the Amherst County Jail with no bond allowed.
Booker is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. today in Lynchburg General District Court for his bond hearing.
The Lynchburg Police Department also denied a request from the Winston-Salem Journal to publicly release the video of Booker’s arrest.
The video is considered a public record under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, but Lynchburg police is using an exception to the law to keep the video private because it’s part of its criminal investigation in the case, Detective Todd Rodes said.
Booker’s mother, Nida McQueen, and his brother, Chris Booker, both of Winston-Salem, said that officers used excessive force to arrest Larry Booker. McQueen has said that six witnesses told her that her son complied with the officers’ commands when they arrested him.
Leger declined to comment on Booker’s relatives’ assertions about the use of excessive force in Larry Booker’s arrest.
Leger also declined to identify the officers involved with Booker’s arrest on July 18. Booker’s arrest warrants identify the officers involved in his arrest as Detective J.H. Bragg, Officer L.L. Schartiger and Officer N. Godsie.
The police department has made its video of Booker’s arrest available to Bethany Harrison, the Lynchburg Commonwealth Attorney, and to Morgan Hollister, Booker’s attorney and a Lynchburg public defender.
Harrison said she has seen the video of Booker’s arrest, but she declined to discuss the video’s details.
“I can’t talk about a pending case,” Harrison said.
Leger and Harrison said if the video is later used as evidence in Booker’s trial or court hearing, then it likely will be publicly released. Asked whether she will use the video as evidence in Booker’s court proceedings, Harrison said, “It’s too soon to tell at this point.”
Hollister declined to say whether she also has seen the video.
“I can’t get into any details because I am zealously representing my client,” Hollister said.
McQueen said she’s uncertain whether the police video of her son’s arrest should be publicly released. She said she needs to speak to Hollister about the matter.
Chris Booker said that the video should be publicly released if it helps his brother’s case.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia tweeted Monday that Lynchburg police should publicly release the video of Booker’s arrest.
“Withholding information of police misconduct erodes trust in law enforcement,” the ACLU of Virginia said in its tweet.
The organization also called for independent investigation into the matter. Bill Farrar, an ACLU spokesman in Richmond, Va., said that the Virginia State Police should investigate Booker’s case.
“We don’t have all of the facts of the situation,” Farrar said.
“We can’t second-guess what police did at the scene. We are not the judge or the jury.”