BALTIMORE — In the first instance of the Baltimore Police Department enacting Commissioner Michael Harrison’s new policy about releasing body camera footage from officers, journalists have been invited to view video from an incident in which an officer has been charged with assault.
Sgt. Ethan Newberg, a 24-year veteran of the department, is currently facing assault charges from an incident in which he is accused of tackling and arresting a man who said something to Newberg as the man walked by an arrest in progress. Footage captured by body worn cameras from officers at the scene is frequently cited in the charging documents as corroborating the accusations of excessive use of force in the making of an arrest that was not considered valid.
That video will be shown at 1 p.m. Friday at Police Headquarters in Downtown Baltimore. The release seems to fall within Harrison’s new guidelines about such footage. On June 5, the Commissioner said the department’s Public Integrity Bureau will make a recommendation about whether to publicly release such footage or not within five days of an incident. The Commissioner will then have 48 hours following receiving the PIB’s recommendation to make his own decision about the release of such footage. If Harrison determines to release the video, it will be made available “as soon as practical,” a release from announcement said.
“This new policy speaks to BPD’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and building the public trust,” Harrison said in a statement.
In the Newberg instance, which occurred on May 30, Harrison announced the charges at a press conference on June 6. The department’s decision to release footage on July 14 does not fall fully within the new policy, as the decision was announced on June 13, two weeks after the incident, but a week after the announcing of the charges.
The department said journalist can attend the viewing of the footage held at 1 p.m. at headquarters, but police personnel will not be made available to answer questions about the footage of the incident. The department did not say if Harrison would be attending the viewing.
Following the showing of the footage, police will provide journalist with a DVD copy of the video, or journalists will be allowed to film the footage off of a television showing the video. The department did not say if the video will later be made available on their Youtube channel or other public platforms.