Judge orders officer body cam video release following media challenge

Problem Solvers

GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — A Weld County Judge has granted the media’s request to release body cam footage in the criminal case against a Greeley police officer.

Officer Ken Amick was charged with second-degree assault/strangulation on June 28 after he allegedly put a suspect in a chokehold on June 7.

In July, officer Amick filed a motion, asking the judge to bar the release of body-worn camera footage despite the newly passed House Bill-1250, which calls for the release of body cam footage whenever a complaint has been lodged against a police officer.

As the Problem Solvers first reported on July 23, Judge Vicente Geraldo Vigil granted the officer’s request, which was also supported by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office.

Both prosecutors and Amick’s defense attorney contend that releasing the footage might be prejudicial to a potential jury before Amick goes to trial.

But a consortium of media outlets organized by FOX31 filed an objection, arguing HB-1250 provides a clear presumption to release body cam video when officers are accused of misconduct.

“I think the public really has a hunger for what’s happening right now and whether you know law enforcement agency is being truthful,” said Rachael Johnson, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom who represented a consortium of media that included FOX31, 9NEWS, Denver7, CBS4, the Associated Press, The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The Denver Gazette.

Judge Vigil agreed with the media and reversed himself Thursday morning, ordering the district attorney’s office to release the video as soon as possible.

“It was a huge victory. I mean this law has been in effect for a little while now, it was the first test of this law,” Johnson said.

A spokeswoman for the Weld County District Attorney told the Problem Solvers her office was working to release the video by Thursday afternoon or sometime Friday at the latest.

It’s believed there are up to four different body cams that captured the June 7 arrest of Matthew Wilson for an outstanding warrant.

Amick’s defense attorney David Goddard told the judge he was worried release of the body cam might taint a future jury pool.

But the judge noted any concerns about jurors already having made up their mind by seeing body cam months before the case goes to trail can be dealt with during jury selection (Voir Dire) when potential jurors are questioned about their knowledge of a case.

In addition, the judge mentioned the defense could always seek to file a change-of-venue motion if it can prove pre-trial coverage might make a fair trial unattainable in Weld County.

Under Colorado’s new body cam statute, officer body cam is to be released within 21 days anytime a complaint is filed against an officer. The law does allow prosecutors or police departments to delay the release for 45 days if a criminal case is pending, like in the Amick case.

Officer Amick has been on administrative leave without pay since he was charged.

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