"After December march in Hayward resulted in injuries to protesters, the city agreed to release police body camera footage... for a price: $2,938.58 for first round of pictures. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties sued the city, saying the charge far exceeded its legitimate costs"
After a December march in Hayward resulted in injuries to protesters, the city agreed to release police body camera footage to the demonstrators’ supporters for a price: $2,938.58 for the first round of pictures.
On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties sued the city, saying the charge far exceeded its legitimate costs.
“Such a hefty price tag will put these public records beyond the reach of most Californians, including journalists investigating possible instances of excessive force,” ACLU attorney Alan Schlosser said after filing the suit in Alameda County Superior Court.
The demonstrations were part of nationwide protests against decisions not to charge police in the deaths of two black men,Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.
The National Lawyers Guild filed a Public Records Act request to Hayward police for body camera footage from officers who took part in crowd control. The city complied but the guild said it received a bill of over $2,900 from the Police Department in May, with similar charges expected for additional footage requested by the guild from the demonstration. The organization said it paid the bill under protest before going ahead with the lawsuit.
While the increasing use of police body cameras is helpful for fact-finding and increasing public trust, said Rachel Lederman, president of the guild’s Bay Area chapter, those benefits are “undermined when the public cannot get access to the videos” because police either withhold them or charge too much.
The suit accuses Hayward of violating provisions of the Public Records Act that limit fees the city’s duplication costs unless additional expenses are needed for processing electronic records.
The ACLU says Hayward should refund the amounts it overcharged the National Lawyers Guild and limit future fees.