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Is Body Camera Footage Public Record?

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The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday heard from attorneys in two cases revolving around whether police body camera footage is public record. 

The first case made nationwide headlines when a white former University of Cincinnati police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man during a minor traffic stop. 

The accused shooter, Ray Tensing, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

In the other case, state troopers initially refused to release footage of a high-speed chase. The Cincinnati Enquirer sued. The paper’s attorney John Greiner compared body cam footage to police reports.

“Which essentially record the initial interaction between the police and the public in written form,Greiner told justices Tuesday.

The state’s attorney Jeffrey Clark says the footage falls under an exemption for investigatory documents.

“And that means it doesn’t have to be released, but it doesn’t prohibit its release,” said Clark.

In both cases, the body cam footage was eventually released.