ALBUQUERQUE – The sheriff of New Mexico’s most populous county will not require his deputies to use body cameras because he said the media would use the footage to unfairly criticize the officers.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales told KOAT-TV in a story Tuesday that the video “gives a lopsided, one-sided story, which I think is a disservice to the whole community.”
His stance has drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and the New Mexico Foundation of Open Government.
Bernalillo deputies have been involved in nine shootings in the last four months. In the most recent, 50-year-old Matthew Scudero was fatally shot after authorities said he opened fire on deputies on Nov. 10.
A family member of Scudero has questioned the sheriff’s office for why it doesn’t have video of the encounter.
People want to know what happened and are not trying to unfairly paint the police a certain way, said Greg Williams, president of the open government foundation.
“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.”
Deputies do record audio during their interactions with people. The Sheriff’s Office has not yet released the audio related to the shooting form earlier this month.