Police Release Camera Footage When It Makes Them Look Good

If he tries to break through – lethal force 

That was the order given, by Spokane Police Officer Chris McMurtrey, just before he and two other officers fired 18 rounds at Jason Smith. McMurtreyeven fired an extra(19th) round after Jason put his hands up.

The claim that the truck is a weapon is invalid. When the truck is stuck against another vehicle the officers have an opportunity to run. Even if Smith has succeeded in ramming through the police cruiser, none of the officers were in an any immediate harm. McMurtrey should have just said “If you put that truck in gear, I’m going to shoot you”.

The video shows Jason  using his Dodge pickup truck to push police cruisers out of his driveway. Neither of the officers are in immediate danger, if Smith is successful at pushing through the cruisers, still they open fire. The officers pull Smith from the truck and administer quick and effective medical aid to the bullet wounds in his chest and head. The video of the medical aid and the officers working so hard to save his life is what prompted the quick release. Every officer should be that well-trained to save someones life but keep in mind he wouldn’t have had to save Jason’s life if they had been a little more patient.

Tim Schwering, the department’s director of the Office of Professional Accountability said, at a press conference, the department released over an hour of body camera footage from the incident as part of a policy change, as well as, to appear more transparent.

Prior to today, we used to wait until the prosecutor was done with their findings before we started our internal affairs investigation,” Schwering said. The department will now be releasing all of its information on incidents where deadly force is used as soon as possible after it is given to the prosecutor, and will begin an internal review, in an effort to “help with transparency,” Schwering said.

Click on the image to check out mobile device apps that can help you stay safe and keep the police accountable.
Click on the image to check out mobile device apps that can help you stay safe and keep the police accountable.

Assault charges were filed against James Smith, who has been released from the hospital but has yet to appear in court. No charges were filed against officers. Spokane County Sheriff’s Detective Tim Ricketts said, that McMurtrey acted to stop a direct threat regardless of he fact that Jason Smith had his hands up.

McMurtrey fired the last shot, after Smith had raised his hands but continued to rev the engine, to stop “the suspect from continuing to accelerate and trying to break through the police cars, that would put citizens, responding officers and any bystanders at risk of being harmed by” Smith, Ricketts wrote in his report turned over to prosecutors.

It is a change in pace to see a department willingly releasing videos of their officers using deadly force, in an effort to be more transparent, but they are inconsistent. The Spokane police department is withholding video of their officers shooting Tyler Radant. Randant’s case has been turned over to prosecutors office and is now open to public information requests, still the video has not been released. 


The video of Jamar Clark, who was shot in the head, has not been released. Witnesses say that Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. Protesters camped at the 4th precinct police station demanded the release of the video. After the police broke up the encampment they continued by protesting at the Mall of America.

The video of Jason Van Dyke ,the former Chicago cop, who fired 17 rounds into Laquan McDonald was held for almost an entire year. After its release Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder. Protests erupted and the police superintendent was fired. The community is now calling for the Mayor to resign.

The body camera footage from the shooting death of Jeremy Mardis, a six-year-old boy, who was killed after officers cornered his father’s SUV and opened fire, has not been released. The officers are both charged with murder and the footage from the camera played a large role in those charges. That video may never be released. Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police, said the footage was “extremely disturbing, and it is partly why we’re here tonight with these charges.”

In most cases, video footage that shows officers acting inappropriately is held for as long as possible in an effort to minimize public outcry. The longer they can keep from releasing the evidence the more people will forget about it and the less likely it is that the police will be forced to deal with an uprising. 

As you can see not every department makes a habit out of releasing footage in an expedient manner. For this reason, it’s even more important for us individuals to use the technology available in order to expose police officers who act outside of the law. Creating an objective record for any encounter you have with law enforcement really can be the difference between an officer getting away with murder or an officer getting charged with murder.

Listen to CopBlock Radio and other Liberty Minded Programs on LRN.FM
Listen to CopBlock Radio and other Liberty Minded Programs on LRN.FM

Brian Sumner

is an Activist, Journalist and Photographer from the Fresno area who has taken a special interest in the "Police State". He facilitates a watchdog group called the Fresno Liberty Movement, advocates filming the police and alternatives to state controlled protection services. He also served in the U.S Army from Oct. 08' thru Mar. 12' with a tour in Iraq in 2010. Most recently he participated in the CopBlock Network's #MACtour Check out more of my writing at: The Fresno People's Media & BrianDavidSumner.com Follow me on Social media: Facebook YouTube