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'People need to see it' | Calls continue to change body camera law in North Carolina

North Carolina law requires a court order to release body camera recordings. Gastonia veteran Joshua Rohrer has filed a petition for the video of his arrest.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Protesters in Gastonia are once again demanding police release body camera footage of Joshua Rohrer’s arrest. He’s the homeless veteran whose October 2021 arrest caused uproar in the community with claims of police brutality. 

North Carolina laws are keeping the footage from being released.  

Rohrer and his supporters stood outside the Gaston County Courthouse Tuesday with signs reading “release the bodycam footage.” 

Rohrer told WCNC Charlotte that he wants the video released to hold the police officers accountable and clear his name of what he called an unfair arrest.

His attorney filed a petition on July 15 to formally request a release of the video. 

"Hopefully, it’s released this time and it's not denied by the judge because people need to see it,” Rohrer said. 

Rohrer has seen the video for himself.

Following Rohrer’s arrest in October 2021, a media coalition led by WCNC Charlotte requested the footage but was denied by a state superior court judge in December. The judge said the recording contained confidential information that could jeopardize safety and an investigation. 

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"There's been a lot of barriers that we hit and with the judge denying the petition, I think this right here should be the catalyst to change that law,” Rohrer said.

North Carolina law allows people seen or heard in police body camera video to see the confidential footage but requires a court order for it to be made public. If a video is made public, the law states, "the court shall release only those portions of the recording that are relevant to the person's request, and may place any conditions or restrictions on the release of the recording that the court, in its discretion, deems appropriate."

State lawmakers, including Senator Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg), filed a bill last year to make body camera recordings more accessible but it didn’t get far.  

Senator Mohammed wrote WCNC Charlotte a statement that said in part, “the timely and adequate release of bodycam footage is in the public interest and ensures transparency, builds trust with law enforcement, and furthers public safety for all of us.” 

WCNC Charlotte asked Gaston County District Attorney Travis Page if he supports releasing the video now that Rohrer’s case has been resolved with a plea agreement but we have not heard back. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'They lied' | Gastonia homeless veteran describes bodycam video of his arrest

Wednesday, WCNC Charlotte learned the Gastonia Police Department and the Gaston County District Attorney want a judge to release body camera video of encounters with Rohrer. 

 

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