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D.C. judge denies police union request to block District’s decision to make public body camera footage, identity of officers who use serious force

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A D.C. judge Thursday denied a request by the District’s police union to block the city from making public the names of police officers involved in a death or serious injury, as well as the footage from their body cameras.

During a virtual hearing before D.C. Superior Court Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo, an attorney for the union argued releasing such information puts an officer’s safety at risk and that officers should be treated with the same privacy rights as private citizens who are witnesses to crimes.

But Puig-Lugo was not swayed and said the union failed to provide any evidence there would be “immediate or irreparable harm” to an officer whose name or body camera footage is made public.

D.C. police union seeks court injunction to stop release of body-worn camera footage, officers’ identity following fatal interactions

In June, the D.C. Council passed emergency legislation that required authorities to release such information within five days of an incident as part of the city’s effort to be more transparent about police use of force and to increase accountability.

The move came in the wake of protests nationwide following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Attorneys for the union argued police officers are placed at greater risk of retaliation if their identities are made public.

But city attorneys argued that police officers, who are employees of the District, are not afforded privacy rights if they are on duty and as a result “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” said Conrad Z. Risher, assistant attorney general for the District.

Risher said the existing legislation ordering the public disclosure of an officer’s identity and camera footage expires on Oct. 20 unless a permanent law is enacted.

The union represents 3,600 D.C. police officers.