After pledging transparency, BCSO fights to block release of body cam video in shooting of Damian Daniels

Sheriff Javier Salazar called himself ‘a big proponent of transparency’ days after shooting

SAN ANTONIO – Weeks after Sheriff Javier Salazar pledged to be more transparent following a deputy’s fatal shooting of Damian Daniels, the sheriff’s office confirmed Wednesday it is seeking to withhold body camera footage of the combat veteran’s death.

In the aftermath of Daniels' death at the hands of a Bexar County sheriff’s deputy, Salazar said he planned to release “at least some video” of the incident. Salazar explained his reasoning — saying he is a “big proponent of transparency” — in a press conference on Aug. 28, two days after he released still photos showing snippets of the struggle between Daniels and three deputies.

I [released the photos] because I wanted to be more transparent. And the fact is, I’m leaning toward releasing some video later. I understand it may never be appropriate for me to release it all. Certainly, it’s a graphic video and I know that Mr. Daniels has a family out there. I don’t want — there’s some pretty graphic stuff on this on this video, I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to hurt the case, I definitely don’t want to traumatize this family anymore than they’ve already been traumatized. But I also believe I’m a big proponent of — and y’all know that as a public information officer for several years, and now as the sheriff — I’m also a big proponent of transparency. I’m also a big proponent of public information. And so the public does have a right to know certain things about this case, but it’s a delicate balance, and so we’re trying to to balance all of that. So yeah, I do intend to try to release some video when it when it becomes appropriate without me aggravating the situation or hurting the case.

Sheriff Javier Salazar on Aug. 28

Editor’s note: The press conference below starts 7 minutes and 42 seconds into the video.

KSAT requested body camera footage of the fatal shooting on Aug. 31 under open records law. On Wednesday, 17 days after receiving the request, a Bexar County open records specialist responded, saying that due to the active investigation, they are seeking permission from the Texas Attorney General’s Office to withhold the video.

In Texas, law enforcement agencies are provided an exception to releasing public information when it could impact an active investigation, however, it is up to them on whether to use the exception or to release the footage. Some major Texas police departments are now releasing body-worn camera footage before the investigation is concluded as the public demands more transparency — in some cases within days of the shooting.

“Sheriff Salazar is committed to a full and transparent investigation and as he stated at the onset, he has every intention of releasing the video as soon as the investigation able, but without jeopardizing the case,” according to a statement provided by the sheriff’s office. “At this time, the investigation is open and ongoing.”

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