(AP) – Michael Brown’s family urged Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday to overcome politics and pass a law requiring police to wear body cameras.
Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, told a Senate panel considering the issue that while body cameras are only one piece of police reform, they would go a long way to help restore community trust. She urged lawmakers to resist “political posturing” and pass legislation that would truly change policing.
“As a mother who lost her son, I ask you to not let this bill just sit on your desk,” she said. “This is not a black or white issue. This is a right and wrong issue.”
Brown, who was 18 and unarmed, was fatally shot by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in August 2014, setting off weeks of protests and spurring calls for more police transparency in a city where many felt the largely white police department used excessive force against the majority black residents. The U.S. Department of Justice cleared the officer of wrongdoing, but it said Ferguson’s policing was often discriminatory and aimed at generating ticket revenue.
McSpadden said body cameras were no substitute for good police and good policies, but that recordings of other police shootings showed some officers initially lied about what happened.
“I still do not have closure or the solid truth of what happened that day,” she said.
Ferguson has adopted police body cameras since Brown’s death, but a similar legislative proposal failed last year, and lawmakers didn’t pass any bills last year addressing when police can use deadly force. Rep. Shawn Rhoads, the Republican chairman of the House’s committee on public safety and a reserve deputy for the Howell County Sheriff’s Office, has said he has concerns about state-mandated body cameras because of their cost and potential privacy violations.
The latest legislation would require police in any city with at least 100,000 residents to wear a body camera on duty and to record the entirety of official interactions.