Officer-Involved Shootings Protocol

Protocol for Disclosure of Officer-Involved Shooting Video Evidence

Law enforcement leadership in Humboldt County agrees it should release video in officer-involved shooting cases whenever possible, as soon as it’s appropriate to do so.  Law enforcement is also committed to prioritizing and expediting investigations of OIS to facilitate timely review by the District Attorney.

The integrity of law enforcement’s investigation and review, the privacy of people on the video, and public safety concerns must be considered in determining how and when to release video evidence in OIS.  The legal rights of all parties involved must also be protected.

The default position of Humboldt County law enforcement will be to release OIS-related video evidence.  However, video evidence will not be released until:

1.    The District Attorney’s independent review of the incident has been completed and the findings have been provided to the law enforcement agency involved. 

2.    Any criminal proceedings related to the officer-involved shooting incident are completed.  (Note that video is likely to become public in criminal cases when entered into evidence.)

3.    All involved law enforcement agencies and officers are notified.  

Video may be edited to address privacy and safety concerns and to focus on information useful to the public:

1.    The faces of the officers, witnesses, and the person shot will be blurred out.  Other distinctive identifying features may be eliminated.

2.    The segments of the video relevant to the review, legal analysis, and decision of the District Attorney will be identified and released.  

In order to provide county-wide consistency, the District Attorney’s Office will manage the release of OIS-related law enforcement video to the media, including making the decision on what will be released.  To provide context, the District Attorney’s Office will make a public statement and release the results of the District Attorney’s review at the same time the video is released.

The District Attorney has a legal and ethical duty not to jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or prejudice a potential criminal case.  This duty may result in the decision not to release video evidence in some cases.

Exceptions may be made to this policy in the interests of justice, public safety, or human decency.  The video released will not affect the exemption under the Public Records Act of any other investigative materials, including any additional video.

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Maggie Fleming

Humboldt County District Attorney

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William Dobberstein, Chief of Police

Fortuna Police Department

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Stephen Watson, Chief of Police

Eureka Police Department

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William F. Honsal, Sheriff

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department

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Jeff Conner, Chief of Police

Rio Dell Police Department

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Donn Peterson, Chief of Police

Humboldt State University Police Department

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Stacy Barr, Captain/Humboldt Area 

Commander, California Highway Patrol

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Randy England, Lieutenant/Garberville Area

Commander, California Highway Patrol

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Floyd T. Stokes, Chief of Police

Blue Lake Tribal Police Department

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Bret A. Smith, Chief of Police

Ferndale Police Department

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Paul Savona, Battalion Chief

CAL-FIRE

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Richard Ehle, Interim Chief of Police

Arcata Police Department

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John Vallett, Public Safety Superintendent

California State Parks

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