Mayor Nirenberg, criminal justice expert weigh in on SAPD chief’s decision not to release body cam video of fatal police shooting

Chief William McManus says he’s honoring a request by the victim’s mother

SAN ANTONIO – A decision by San Antonio Police Department Police Chief William McManus not to authorize the release of police body camera video of the fatal shooting of a man by police is getting mixed reaction.

Erik Mejia, 26, was shot and killed by four police officers on Jan. 27 outside South Park Mall after McManus said the man raised a gun at the officers. The shooting was recorded on an officer’s body cam.

“Based on the circumstances surrounding the incident, I do not believe there is compelling law enforcement or public interest that would cause me to go against the decedent’s mother,” McManus said in a statement on Friday.

In a letter to San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh, McManus said Mejia’s mother indicated that to release the video “would cause her great distress.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Monday that he understood McManus’ decision.

”If there is a family that is going to be retraumatized, and there’s not a public safety interest in the release of the footage, then that seems to be a reasonable use of the discretion that the Chief has under state statutes” Nirenberg said.

Kevin LaChapelle, a professor at National San Diego University, questioned McManus’ decision.

”It’s concerning in the fact that now, more than ever, transparency is really important,” LaChapelle said. “How do we balance the public’s need to know, if you will, against the wishes of the family? One could go to the family and say, ‘We want to respect you, but we also want to be transparent for the community. Would you be OK if we were able to blur this or we were able to show it in a different way?’”

Related Stories:

About the Authors

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

Recommended Videos