CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The truth as revealed from police body camera footage in the Ricky Boyd shooting remains a secret.
What we're learning is that the decision whether a law enforcement agency chooses to release this kind of evidence is vague at best. Ricky Boyd's family has been very clear in their demands to let the world see what really happened that January morning. We sat down with a local attorney Monday who spoke to that grey area as well as how prosecutors might be taking advantage of it right now.
By not releasing the video, police are not going against the law or the norms of a standard police investigation. Right now, the law requires law enforcement to make all public records open and accessible.
"There's an exception for law enforcement records for an ongoing or pending investigation, but there's an exception to that exception," said Andrew Bowen, Bowen Painter Trial Lawyers.
Attorney Andrew Bowen says that exception is for the initial incident report. We received that report from police which states what they believe were the facts that day. Bowen says the most obvious piece of evidence that could tell the real story is the body cam footage, but the law was written before body cameras were standard police equipment.
"So, you have to wonder does the body cam footage of an incident fall more under the gambit or the aspect of an arrest report or incident report, as opposed to investigative materials that might jeopardize an investigation," Bowen said.
In a WTOC Investigates story, we told you Savannah Police Chief Mark Revenew's initial statement changed. When the GBI took the case, it changed again. Bowen says in the midst of chaos, that might be understandable, but it certainly needs to be verified.
"I understand how in the heat of the moment, things can be confusing, but the problem is they've now changed their story and they continue to refuse to release the footage that would let everybody know what happened," Bowen said.
The media, the public, and Will Clairborne, the family's attorney, were all prohibited from watching the video.
"They're sort of going at this haphazardously in this case, but if what was on that tape is going to be harmful to an investigation, you wouldn't think they would let anybody view it," Bowen said.
The district attorney now has the case and is refusing to release the video because she claims it's evidence in an ongoing investigation. Even that argument has not been followed with consistency.
Pictures of the BB gun - the gun police say Ricky Boyd was holding when police shot him to death - was released within days of the shooting. Bowen says it's this inconsistency and lack of transparency that could be hurting their case more than helping it.
"It's the unknown. Right now, they're letting people guess and speculate, and that's not good for their profile in the community or the community in itself."
We still do not have word on if or when the DA might release the footage, but we'll let you know as soon as we know.