Show the video: The NYPD has an obligation to the city to release body-worn camera recordings from the deaths of Detectives Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera

·2 min read

It has been 48 days since Lashawn McNeil gunned down NYPD cops Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora when they responded to a Harlem domestic violence call, killing Rivera almost instantly; 45 days since McNeil died from sustaining injuries when a third officer returned fire; and 44 days since Mora died. That puts the police department in violation of its policy on body-worn camera video, which says that recordings of a “critical incident” — including any incident in which the “use of force by one or more officers...results in death or serious physical injury to another” — shall be made public within 30 calendar days.

We sympathize with police brass. These sights and sounds will be absolutely agonizing to witness, especially for anyone who loved Rivera or Mora. And there have been no credible allegations of wrongdoing here by the cops, arguably dampening the need for radical transparency.

But from where we sit, the benefit of showing New Yorkers the vivid reality of what transpired — including the actions of officer Sumit Sulan, who fired the shots that stopped McNeil from wreaking more havoc — overrides the pain. Indeed, we believe witnessing precisely what happened is likely to clarify the professionalism with which Rivera, Mora and Sulan did their jobs before and after they were met by an angry psychopath wielding a Glock 45 with a 30-round drum magazine.

The 2020 body-cam disclosure policy, amended from a bad earlier version that gave the NYPD significant latitude to keep images from public view, says recordings “will” come out, with two exceptions: when release would violate a court order or restraining order, or when federal, state or local laws say otherwise. Neither applies here.

The order allows for redactions, including to “avoid undue trauma due to explicit or graphic content.” At the very least, if Commissioner Keechant Sewell is going to keep the video under wraps, she should have a healthy respect for the public and explain why the NYPD is ignoring its own directive.