How police-involved shootings are handled across the DMV
In less than a month, the DMV has seen officer-involved shootings in D.C., Frederick, Maryland and Fairfax, Virginia, and residents say they want answers. However, when and how you get information depends on your zip code.
In D.C., it usually takes five business days to see the body-worn camera footage from an officer who used serious force. In Maryland, the attorney general's office typically releases footage within 14 days of an officer killing someone.
In Virginia, it depends on where you live. Fairfax County's policy is 30 days or police will tell you why they're withholding it.
READ MORE: DC research foundation to review Fairfax Co. Police Department's officer-involved shootings
Just as there are different rules for releasing body-worn camera footage, the same is true for who decides whether officers face criminal charges.
In the District, federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office determine whether a police officer has engaged in potentially criminal conduct. In Virginia, the local commonwealth attorney is the ultimate decision-maker on criminal charges.
The same is true in Maryland, for now. Lawmakers are pushing a bill that would give an independent investigator in the Maryland Attorney General's Office the power to prosecute officer-involved deaths, even when a local state's attorney declines.
READ MORE: Alexandria Police Department to add body cameras to officer uniforms
"Prosecutors and law enforcement officers work together," says Sen. Will Smith Jr. of Montgomery County. "They have very close relationships in developing cases and prosecuting cases and investigating cases. And there's an inherent conflict there. Those relationships are very close, they're not inappropriate. But in this context, there's an inherent conflict. But I think people want that kind of transparency, disconnectedness, and independence."