The Washington State Supreme Court has sided with Seattle’s KOMO in a lengthy legal battle between the ABC affiliate and the Seattle Police Department over access to police dashcam videos.
In the opinion, which was filed today, the court concludes that two out of three of reporter Tracy Vedder’s public records requests should have been granted.
KOMO sued for access to the dashcam videos in 2011, the same year the Department of Justice was investigating the Seattle Police Department for use of excessive force. The investigation concluded the SPD “engaged in a pattern of excessive force in violation of the Constitution and federal law.”
In a statement to TVSpy, KOMO news director Holly Gauntt said the station is pleased with the outcome of the court battle:
We’re ecstatic about this win, not just for KOMO but for all media across Washington and quite frankly for the citizens of our state. … It was blatantly unfair and unethical for the police department to try and keep potentially incriminating videos out of the public’s view. It was even more damming when you consider that the department consistently uses dashcam videos in its court cases against citizens and yet doesn’t allow citizens to access the videos when they feel they’ve been unjustly treated by police.
Honestly, it’s our obligation to hold public officials and entities accountable and to advocate for our viewers. I believe we’ve really succeeded in doing that and it feels great.