AP NEWS

PA police must release video, name officer to inform taxpayers

March 6, 2019

This is why police officers wear body cameras. To prove that their actions in a tense situation were appropriate … or not. Incredibly, however, Port Arthur police have still not released the footage involving the death of Shayne Lyons, who was fatally shot on Dec. 28 when he reportedly advanced on an officer with a machete. Police have not even released the name of the officer.

Both of those actions are inexcusable violations of the public’s right to know basic facts about the police department supported by their tax dollars.

If the video shows that police had no other choice but to shoot Lyons, the officer will be exonerated. Since the footage has not been released more than two months after the incident, citizens are naturally going to wonder if the video shows something else. Who can blame them?

Withholding the officer’s name is another needless affront to taxpayers by Chief Tim Duriso. In any police shooting, there is no valid reason to withhold the identity of the officer or officers more than a few hours. It should be a routine response in any well-run department, as basic as the time and location of the shooting.

No one should be misled by the familiar misdirection about “an ongoing investigation.” The investigation can easily proceed. It is not hindered by the release of fundamental facts about the incident, such as the identity of the person who fired the shots.

Residents need to know if this officer has a good record or if he or she was involved in any other controversial incidents. This will help restore confidence in the department if it has nothing to hide.

Police shootings are never easy. A human being has been killed; his family and friends are grieving. Officers try to avoid them, too. The best way for any community to deal with these tragedies is to get all the information out there as soon as possible. Stonewalling the taxpayers only makes the situation worse. It fuels rumors and cynicism.

It’s time for answers, not excuses. Port Arthur leaders must provide them.