In one of the most ridiculous excuses to date, Bernalillo County’s sheriff refuses to have his deputies wear body cameras because he claims he can’t trust the media.
Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III says reporters would misconstrue the footage to unfairly criticize his officers if they were to show video and audio of the actual events.
The American Civil Liberties Union immediately took issue with the ridiculous statement from the sheriff. On Tuesday, the New Mexico Foundation of Open Government also spoke against his decision and his flawed reasoning, reported KOAT.
“I don’t think anyone is trying to unfairly paint the police or to use this video against them,” FOG President Greg Williams said. “I just think everyone wants to know what happened.”
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for 9 deputy-involved shootings in the last 4 months. Some of those were fatal, including the Nov. 10 shooting death of 50-year-old Matthew Scudero. Investigators say Scudero refused to come out of his mobile home and started shooting at deputies. Of course this cannot be verified because there is no video of the incident, there is only the word of his killers.
Scudero’s sister Darcy said she initially hoped for video evidence of the shooting, then found out BCSO deputies don’t wear body cameras.
“Why wouldn’t you have them? What is the reason to not have them?” she asked.
Gonzales says his department does not, and will not, wear body cameras because he believes the media will use the footage to falsely criticize officers.
“Gives a lopsided, one-sided story, which I think is a disservice to the whole community,” Gonzales said.
Williams said the Sheriff’s Department should trust the public and let any video speak for itself.
“It often justifies their position because it shows that they were doing their job in a correct way,” Williams said. “And in those situations where maybe they were not, or mistakes were made, or things that they could learn from, the video helps that process.”