TIMELINE: Bodycams in Knoxville, including early warning of restrictions on video releases

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August 26, 2019

Knoxville Police Officers responded to a reported hit and run on Merchant Drive. A KPD spokesperson reported a physical altercation on scene. The altercation resulted in the shooting death of Channara Tom Pheap.

August 27, 2019

Knoxvillians Against Injustice held a rally at Market Square to advocate for change, including body worn cameras.

August 29, 2019

Then candidate for mayor, Indya Kincannon, endorsed body cameras. “I think that they can help protect the public from abuse by the rogue police officer and it also, just as importantly, can protect police officers from false accusations,” she said.

September 6, 2019

City leaders announced two cameras were ordered for the department to test and evaluate costs.

November 7, 2019

District Attorney General Charme Allen announced the officer-involved shooting death of Pheap was justified. Allen used video in a news conference to further explain their findings. “I want to give every case, especially these cases, every bit of effort that we possibly can to make sure we come to a just conclusion and I feel like we did,” she said.

December 21, 2019

Indya Kincannon is sworn in as Mayor of Knoxville.

January 28, 2020

The new mayor told city council she was committed to providing KPD officers with body cameras. “This has been something the community has been interested in for greater accountability and transparency,” Kincannon said following the meeting.

January 29, 2020

General Allen voiced support for the body-worn cameras but warned “there are often times, if we release the body camera immediately, it would hamper our investigation,” Allen said. “It would shut down other leads.” She also noted privacy would be a factor in the future. “If an officer goes into a home with a body camera on and there are children, we have to be very careful about what we can and can’t release, based on what is captured in that video,” she added.

July 28, 2020

Knoxville City Council unanimously voted in favor of a five-year, roughly $4.9 million, contract for 350 “Axon Body 3” model body cameras and upgrades to cruiser cameras. Councilmember Lauren Rider told us ahead of the vote “We promised it to both citizens and police. As a council member, what is important to me, it’s a tool to help the officers and citizens for accountability.”

September 14, 2020

KPD received their first shipment of body and fleet cams, started training and installation. Excited started to build among advocates for the investment. Denzel Grant told us “it’s definitely exciting. It’s something that I, personally, have been fighting for the past four years.

January 21, 2021

KPD announced they were beginning phase two of deploying body-worn cameras and upgrading their in-car camera systems.

February 24, 2021

WATE Six On Your Side used video captured from a KPD body camera for the first time, showing officers citing Billiards and Brews for violating the county curfew.

April 1, 2021

KPD announced every officer, and every KPD cruiser, was outfitted with the new technology.
“It gives the public a sense of security as well as the officer themselves. It’s just public confidence and I think everyone is ready for that,” Julia Small, KPD’s Police Technology Manager, said.

April 12, 2021

Officers responded to a report of a student possibly armed at Austin-East Magnet High School. A TBI report shows officers found the student in a restroom and went inside. It says after a struggle the student’s gun was fired, then officers fired twice. 17-year-old Anthony Thompson, Jr. died.

April 15, 2021

DA General Allen holds news conference to explain rationale behind witholding body camera video of events at Austin-East. “…for it to be out there to be viewed by potential witnesses before they give statements, it could potentially taint the criminal integrity of this case. So, I cannot release that body camera video at this point.”

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