BCSO pushes back against 10-day deadline to release body camera video

Sheriff Javier Salazar says he’ll work down towards 10 days but 30 days is more achievable immediately.

BCSO pushes back against 10-day deadline to release body camera video

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said he won’t be able to meet the 10-day deadline set by county commissioners yet when it comes to releasing body camera video.

On Dec. 7, 2021, Bexar County commissioners agreed the sheriff’s office should release body camera video within 10 days of a critical incident.

“We’re certainly sensitive to what it is that’s being asked of us. But, you know, at the same time, we’ve got to be realistic with what’s what’s being asked of us,” Salazar said Monday.

In a letter, he says 30 days is more acceptable for the time being until they’re able to get the timing down.

Sheriff Salazar did not mince words when talking about why he felt the 10-day deadline was imposed.

“That was done capriciously and out of malice by one county commissioner who is no longer on the court,” Salazar said.

Tommy Calvert, the commissioner for Precinct 4, said there’s no reason BCSO shouldn’t meet the deadline. They already have the funding.

Bexar County staff from the Office of Criminal Justice Policy, Planning & Programs broke down the BCSO body worn camera budget for a 5 year span. (Office of Criminal Justice Policy, Planning & Programs)

“We are paying $1 million a year for the licensing of the software,” Calvert said.

The sheriff had asked commissioners for additional funding to upgrade the body camera software. They said no because the contract with Axon should already come with one.

“In the contract, after three years, the company is supposed to give you updates. I would think for $3 million you would have earned an update to your software,” Calvert said.

Secondly, Calvert said the commissioners are not asking for body camera video of everything, just critical incidents like in the case of Damien Daniels.

Deputies shot and killed the combat veteran in 2020. The video was released more than a year later, a timeline that did not sit well with Daniels’ family.

“People would have got to see the truth in a timely manner,” said Annette Watkins, Damien Daniels’ mother.

“We need him to comply with the 10-day release so that we won’t produce a false narrative,” Brendan Daniels, Damien’s brother, added.

Act 4 SA’s executive director, Ananda Tomas, agrees and says it saves families a lot of heartache and questions. She thinks the sheriff needs to try before he says he can’t meet the 10-day deadline.

“He’s absolutely refusing to do it to begin with -- to even attempt to show good faith on his side, on Bexar County Sheriff’s side, to the public, to do what we what we, the community, are asking for,” Tomas said.

Salazar made it a point to say commissioners do not set policy. The sheriff does.

But they do hold the purse strings.

The sheriff plans to bring up the issue as a line item in front of the commissioner’s court on Feb. 8 to explain the plan to work toward the 10-day release policy.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.