KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon held a press conference Monday to address ongoing efforts to release the police body camera footage from last week’s Austin-East Magnet High School shooting.
Disputing a 2019 court order sought by the Knox County District Attorney’s office which precluded the release of evidence in a criminal investigation, Kincannon announced her office has filed a petition in Knox County criminal court to allow for the release of body camera footage that shows the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr.
Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said Thursday body camera video recorded during the officer-involved fatal shooting will be released at an appropriate time after it has completed its function as criminal evidence. No criminal charges have been filed in relation to the shooting.
“Our District Attorney sought a court order in 2019 to maintain control of evidence in a criminal proceeding,” she said. “When I spoke to General Allen after the incident, she maintained that this court order prohibited me from releasing the video. I disagree with this interpretation.”
“On Friday, we filed a petition with Knox County criminal court to allow us to release the video. I am hopeful and confident we will succeed,” she said.
Kincannon said one of the reasons the implementation of body-worn cameras for all KPD officers was one of her first priorities as mayor was promote public trust and transparency in law enforcement.
“Transparency also means timely, not 6 or 18 months later but as soon after an incident as possible. Every day the video is not released perpetuates rumors and misinformation,” Kincannon said. “Every day is not released undermines public trust. It is my first priority to get the videos released. The sooner we the video out, the sooner we can begin to process and to heal.”
Kincannon also stated that she has reached out to the Thompson family to assure them they will have an opportunity to view the body camera footage before it is released.
Police say Thompson, who was armed, was inside a bathroom and did not come out when asked. Officers entered the bathroom, where there was a struggle.
What happened is still under investigation but when it was over, Knoxville Police officer Adama Willson had been injured with a gunshot, and Thompson was shot to death. A preliminary investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation indicated the bullet that struck Willson was not fired from Thompson’s gun.
Kincannon said District Attorney Allen has declined her request to release officer body camera footage of the shooting at this time, citing the ongoing investigation.
Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas expressed support for releasing the body camera footage. Three of the four officers involved released a statement also expressing support for the release of body camera video from the incident.
Ben Crump, a nationally-known trial lawyer and civil rights advocate who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd, announced Monday he has been retained by the family of an Anthony Thompson Jr.