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A veteran officer with the Columbus, Ohio, police department “accidentally deleted” around 100,000 police cruiser dash cam videos, Police Chief Kim Jacobs recently told reporters.
Jacobs revealed that the incident took place in the interests of “transparency and openness” in a press conference in late March, a week after the deletion was discovered and two weeks after it had taken place. The officer, who was not identified, allegedly deleted the files on March 8 while trying to transfer them onto a new system.
Back in December 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement dashcam recordings in the state are public record. Footage from the cameras, fixed to the police vehicle’s dashboard, are viewed as potential evidence in criminal cases or in cases investigating police conduct.
Columbus’ police department lost all of its footage from 2015 in the deletion, as well as around 500 video clips from 2016, and at the press conference, the chief was unable to assess how future or ongoing cases might be affected by the loss. Under state rules, there is a six-year limitation on when charges can be brought against an individual.
The Root brought the mass deletion incident to a broader audience after reporting on a city police officer, Zachary Rosen, currently under investigation for brutally stomping on the head of a handcuffed man. Video footage will likely be pivotal evidence in the case.
The full press conference can be viewed below:
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.