Without further delay, the Longview Police Department should release videos from body and dashboard cameras of the shooting of DeTravian Allison, who was killed Aug. 7 by Longview officers.
That the department has not already released these public records is both disappointing and somewhat surprising. After all, complete transparency is a step that could quickly clear up any number of questions residents have voiced about what happened.
Don’t think the empty space left by the lack of information has not been filled. It has, but by supposition, innuendo and probable misinformation of almost every kind. That includes the allegation that Allison was unarmed at the time he was shot.
Original police reports say officers fired after Allison raised his handgun to fire at them. Beyond that, and the fact the officers involved were placed on paid leave while the incident is investigated, little other information has been released.
Unfortunately, rumors and statements of uncertain veracity will continue unabated until the videos, which should show whether Allison was armed, are made public.
According to original police reports, Allison, who was 18, was spotted at a car that had been reported taken in an aggravated robbery the night before. It also was driven at a criminal trespass earlier in the day.
Allison being at the car does not mean he was involved in either crime, but would be enough to rationally raise the suspicions of police. That much seems clear.
What happened next has become the matter of contention, and that is what the videos should be able to resolve.
We certainly appreciate that police and Texas Rangers investigating the case want to do a thorough job, but we do not see how releasing the tapes would hamper them in completing their work.
Conversely, it is easy to see how making the tapes public would ease tensions in the community. Such uncertainty cannot make policing the streets of Longview any easier.
In cases such as this, when law enforcement agencies decline to release public information, we often hear “the police must be hiding something,” with the implication being that there was wrongdoing.
We don’t buy that as the reason police are withholding public records, and, in the case of Longview, can’t remember that ever being true. We believe there is simply the inclination to not share the results of an ongoing investigation.
But calming the public’s mood and keeping faith in the department strong seems more important than that. Releasing these videos should do both of those things. While the law suggests police can ask to withhold public records in ongoing investigations, it does not say they must do so.
If the worst is true and officers did make mistakes, at least the department would have been forthcoming and honest. If, as we believe, it is not, the air is cleared and the questions are answered.
Policing a community is no simple task even when relationships are at their best. It only becomes worse with such tension.
Being open and transparent is always the right thing for a public agency to do. In this case, releasing the videos is the right thing.
Flags at half-staff
The U.S. and Texas flags at the News-Journal are at half-staff in memory of those killed and injured by gun violence in Odessa. They will remain at half-staff through sunset Thursday, according to an order from Gov. Greg Abbott.
“Midland-Odessa was struck by a senseless and cowardly attack,” Abbott said. Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to both communities in this time of loss.”
Please join us in honoring the memories of all those killed and injured by gun violence in Texas and the U.S.