Las Vegas police have finally released partial footage from police body cameras that showed officers nearing the hotel room where gunman Stephen Paddock unleashed a hail of gunfire on concert-goers last October.
The video released on Wednesday come from officers Sgt. Joshua Bitsko and David Newton, the Las Vegas Journal-Review reported. The first officer to enter the room, Levi Hancock, did not activate his body camera, for a reason that remains unknown to investigators.
The footage appeared to show a group of armed police officers clearing the dimly lit room where Paddock, 64, was staying, the same room where he opened fire a crowd of 22,000 people at an open-air concert on October 1, ultimately killing 58.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at a news conference on Tuesday the footage “in no way changes the facts” presented immediately after the shooting and in the months long investigation.
Las Vegas police had been trying to stall the release of the records for months while locked in a court battle with a consortium of news organizations demanding their release. Through a series of appeals, the case eventually snaked its way up to Nevada’s Supreme Court, which on Friday denied a bid to continue delaying the release.
“We’re grateful Las Vegas police have decided to comply with the court’s order,” Glenn Cook, the executive editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, one of the organizations involved in the lawsuit, said Tuesday. “All we’ve ever asked Metro to do is follow the letter of the Nevada Public Records Act, which makes clear that taxpayer-funded body camera footage, 911 recordings and other records can be reviewed by the public.”
The department’s sheriff, Joseph Lombardo, says the ongoing investigation and concerns about the footage traumatizing the victims and their families have gotten in the way of releasing it, even claiming that doing so would cost police and the public “several hundred thousand dollars in manpower, time and equipment.
“At no point was the LVMPD trying to be uncooperative with the media or the public,” he told reporters Tuesday, even though the department was notoriously tight-lipped in the wake of the attack as many have demanded more information.
An attorney for the Review-Journal accused the sheriff of “suggesting that the media is trying to victimize the community” and that he and his department “has done everything in its power” to keep the records from going public.
“The truth is that the community still has many unanswered questions about the police response to 1 October, and it has a right to assess what happened for itself,” said attorney Maggie McLetchie.
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