DA's Office Backtracks on Remarks About Video Guideline Group

The San Diego County District Attorney's office is backtracking on comments made Tuesday about new guidelines for the release of crime scene video.

At a news conference, DA Bonnie Dumanis said law enforcement officials are developing new policies for the future public release of body-camera and crime scene surveillance video.

Dumanis said that group includes representatives from her office, the U.S. attorney's office, and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

On Wednesday, civil rights and criminal defense attorney Michael Crowley criticized Dumanis’s office. Crowley told NBC 7 any group that formulates new guidelines for the release of those videos should also include community members, including an outside attorneys and perhaps a journalist.

“It's strictly law enforcement,” Crowley said of Dumanis’s description of the working group. “And what are they going to do? They're going to get together and say, 'How can we keep it secret as long as possible before it gets taken to a judge and he says no, you have no reason to keep it secret?'"

The legal director of the ACLU Foundation of San Diego also criticized Dumanis.

“It is essential that community members participate in a transparent process to establish the protocol for disclosure of body-camera videos,” said David Loy. “To open that process is a first step toward building community trust in law enforcement, which is undermined by secrecy and exclusion."

When asked for a response to Crowley’s criticism of any working group that excludes community members, Dumanis spokesman Steve Walker told NBC 7 that his boss misspoke at Tuesday’s news conference.

Walker said the working group has not been officially formed, has not met, and has in fact not done any work on new guidelines for release of officer body-camera video and other crime scene videos. He said no decisions have been made about the make-up of that group.

Dumanis will talk with defense attorneys and the ACLU about their potential involvement with the group, according to Walker.

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