Officer-involved shooting videos may go public sooner, but Venice may never see what happened to unarmed 2015 casualty Brendon Glenn
By Gary Walker
It’s been nearly three years since an LAPD officer shot and killed unarmed 29-year-old Brendan Glenn on Windward Avenue, half a block from the Venice Boardwalk.
When the Los Angeles Police Commission later determined that LAPD Officer Clifford Proctor had no justification to shoot Glenn, Glenn family attorney V. James DeSimone credited video surveillance from a nearby restaurant as the decisive factor in that decision.
“What we have here is an absolute fabrication by an officer who is trying to justify the shooting of an unarmed young man,” DeSimone said of the video, which contradicted statements by Proctor as to why he twice shot Glenn in the back on May 5, 2015. “Thankfully, the video shows that Officer Proctor was lying when he said Glenn was reaching for the [other] officer’s gun.”
The city has since paid out $4 million to settle DeSimone’s civil suit, but county prosecutors have not filed charges against Proctor despite public statements by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck that they should.
The video has never been made public.
As early as their March 13 meeting, police commissioners will consider adopting new policies that would expedite the public release of video footage depicting officer-involved shooting and use-of-force incidents, setting a standard of 45 days except under limited special circumstances. The new policy would cover police body cameras, dashboard cameras, police-operated drones and third-party video, like the business surveillance camera footage of Glenn’s death.
Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff, who previously headed efforts to develop Playa Vista, is keeping an open mind but believes commissioners are on the right track.
“The policy that’s before us now is body camera policy 2.0. It’s next-generation and it fits with what’s going on right now. It’s still written in pencil but not carved in stone and, assuming that we pass it, it will continue to be subject to revision as technology changes and as we benefit from more real-world experiences,” Soboroff told The Argonaut.
The new policy would not apply retroactively, however, according to commission spokesman Juan Garcia — meaning the Glenn shooting video may never go public.
Glenn’s death triggered days of uproar throughout Venice that triggered public protests and a town hall meeting in which Soboroff, L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin and police officials faced pointed skepticism and verbal abuse from hundreds in attendance — many if not most calling for release of the video.
Venice community organizer David Ewing said it’s regrettable the video never came out.
“The ability to withhold that kind of information works against the interests of justice,” he said.
Public support for the release of police video appears high. According to a police commission memo, 67% of those who responded to calls for comments about the policy said footage should “definitely” be made public, and 21% answered “probably.” Among police officers, 31% of responses were in favor and 32% answered “probably.”
Los Angeles Police Protective League spokesman Dustin DeRollo said the union prefers that videos be made public only after any related investigations are completed.
“It’s not just the impact on any officer — it’s an impact on the entire investigation. The premature release of a video could impact the eventual prosecution of an officer,” he said.
“I can understand why video should be kept under wraps from police and a plaintiff until an investigation is conducted so that neither side can tailor their account to what they see on video,” Ewing said. “But unless people can see what has happened, how do we know what needs to be done?”