During a Mobile City Council meeting Tuesday family and friends of the man killed by Mobile Police in July continued to ask for the release of body camera footage to understand why Dallas was killed.
Jawan Dallas died after being tased by an officer with the Mobile Police Department on July 2. Since Jawan’s death his family has publicly called for transparency and release of body camera footage related to the incident.
However, the Mobile Police Department and Mobile City Attorney Ricardo Woods have routinely said that the footage will not be released as long as an active investigation is ongoing.
“We need to know what happened that night” Christine said. “His sisters, his brothers, myself and my husband are torn apart right now because we don’t know what happened. It’s just so wrong because Jay was a good guy.”
Woods began the meeting addressing the issue of the body cam footage and said that once a Mobile County grand jury decided on the incident then the family would be contacted and allowed to see the video.
“Once the criminal investigation is over, we will sit down and go over it with the family and allow them to view the video,” Woods said.
Mobile City Council President CJ Smalls asked Woods how long it would take the jury to deliberate. Woods said it would be a, “matter of months.”
On Sept. 1, this Friday, a new law is scheduled to go into effect that would give police the option to allow certain family members the opportunity to view body camera footage. The law would allow parents, an attorney, spouses or another designated representative to request to view body camera footage if their loved one died and they’re a subject in the footage.
Wood stated that the law, however, still allows the police department the caveat of not releasing the footage while an investigation is ongoing.
“It does not change our path going forward after September 1,” said Woods.
Dr. Roderick Van Daniel, one of the attorneys for Jawan’s family, sent an email to all of the councilmembers about the new law and expressed that allowing Christine to see the footage would not impact an investigation.
“Letting Mrs. Christine Dallas, the mother, view the last seconds of the video will not affect an ongoing active law enforcement investigation nor affect the prosecution of the unknown police officers involved in this matter from the Mobile Police Department,” Van Daniel wrote. “She wants to see the last minutes of her son’s life (Jawan Dallas); so that she can have closure and to begin healing.”
Councilman William Carroll expressed frustration at the lack of transparency and trust that is ongoing between the community and city government. Carroll said that if that was his child he’d be, “sitting at your door everyday,” referencing Wood.
“I’ve been listening to this for three weeks,” Carroll said, “and when you look in the rearview mirror and you look at certain segments of our population there is an ongoing feeling of constant mistrust for the lack of information, and for the lack of not being able to get information and the lack of not being told. If that was your child you’d want to know too.”
Councilman William Penn also gave his support to the Dallas family stating that, “If we can show the body camera after September 1, and if there is a guideline that allows for it I request that the family see [the body camera footage].”
Penn, Carroll, and Smalls all stated their support and sympathy for the Dallas family. All three councilmembers are Black.
“He was minding his own business,” Christine said of her son. “He was not doing anything wrong and we need to find out we need to know what happened to my son.”