Lawmakers in the Arkansas House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit the release of audio or video depicting the death of a police officer in the line of duty.
House Bill 1236, which passed on a 94-0 in the House Monday, would make it illegal to release recordings of a police officer’s death unless a court rules public interest outweighs the government’s desire to keep such recordings secret.
The main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, says he proposed the legislation due to the circulation of a video of Officer Jonathan Schmidt being shot to death nearly six years ago, PoliceOne reports.
“It’s just a video of a murder. There’s no general interest in that,” said Gazaway, a prosecutor at the time the Trumann Police Department released the 20-minute recording.
The video keeps showing up in the social media feeds of the officer’s family members, something Trumman Police Chief Chad Henson finds deeply upsetting.
“Every year, this recirculates. It’s just a constant slap in the face,” Henson said.
“This hurts our family so deeply,” the officer’s father, Donald Schmidt, said. “You don’t want the children to see it. You don’t want it made public.”
After passing in the House, the bill was approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to pass in the Senate next week.
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