MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The St. Paul Police Department says it will release the body cam footage in the death of Ronald Davis, who was fatally shot over the weekend by a city officer.

The department tweeted Friday that the footage of the shooting will be released Tuesday, after Davis’ family has seen the video and a review is completed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting.

Officer Steven Mattson shot Davis Sunday night in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood after police say Davis crashed into the back of Mattson’s marked squad car and threatened Mattson with a knife. He is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in the wake of officer-involved shootings.

This marks only the second time that Chief Todd Axtell and the St. Paul Police Department have released video from a body-worn camera video before a complete investigation.

Minnesota police departments are able to create their own policies, but state law says body camera video from active criminal investigations is confidential. There is a section in the statute that allows agencies to release footage if it will “aid law enforcement, promote public safety, or dispel rumor or unrest.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was the first to do so last year after the police shooting of Thurman Blevins.

Former Brooklyn Park Police chief and Commissioner of Public Safety Don Davis believes there needs to be a state law that spells out when body camera video can and should be released to the public.

“Right now, it’s pretty much at the discretion of an agency and usually sheriffs and chiefs will consult with their prosecuting attorneys, maybe consult insurance carriers,” Davis said.

One week before the Ronald Davis shooting in St. Paul, Brian Quinones was killed by police in Richfield, and body camera video was captured. Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said he would not be releasing the video or any other information about the shooting until all witness interviews were done.

The family of Ronald Davis will have the chance to view the video before it is released on Tuesday.

Civil rights attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong issued WCCO-TV the following statement about Chief Axtell’s decision to release the video:

For the sake of transparency and accountability, it is important for officials to release body camera footage of police shootings as soon as is reasonably possible— preferably within 48 hours. My expectation is that the family of the victim first has an opportunity to review the footage before it is released to the public. This should be standard practice for all law enforcement agencies and municipalities.

Mary McGuire

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