Deters refuses to release Sonny Kim video

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (FOX19 NOW/file)
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (FOX19 NOW/file)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is refusing to release dash cam video of the moments following the shooting of Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim.

The decision comes shortly after Kim's widow made an emotional plea to city leaders to deny several media outlets, including FOX19 NOW, who requested the video.

"I am strongly opposed to the idea of having this video available to the public," wrote Jessica Kim in a letter last week to Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. "It is very sad that there are individuals who are taking this tragedy as if it is a spectating event that needs to be shared. I am certain that those of you who have witnessed the video are in full agreement with me that there is absolutely no value to the public in sharing this. The coverage does not contain any additional information that the general public will benefit from."

FOX19 NOW maintains that Sonny Kim is undoubtedly a hero. Should the video be released, members of our news team would examine and compare it with police and witness accounts from the day he was killed. We fully respect the wishes of the Kim family, and plan to honor them.

A Madisonville man shot the 48-year-old father of three after calling 911 on himself twice on June 19. Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell called Trepierre Hummons' plan "suicide by cop."

Ohio law grants citizens the right to access public records, which include police dash cam video. Based on the request for the video, the city may legally be required to release the footage.

Hummons' family also has asked that the video not be released.

City Manager Harry Black said last week the city was weighing legal options regarding the video.

"I'm inclined to be sensitive to the family's desires, but at the same time, there's a law on the books that we have to comply with," Black said Friday.

The Cincinnati Police Department handed the dash cam video over to Deters on Tuesday. It is standard procedure for every police officer firearm discharge incident to be probed by the prosecutor, Deters said in a statement.

Due to the ongoing investigation, Deters said in a radio interview Tuesday the video will be kept from the public unless he is ordered to release it by the Ohio Supreme Court. He also said he has sympathy for Kim's family.

FOX19 NOW legal analyst Mike Allen, the county's former prosecutor, said the issue is not clear-cut.

"Well, the fact that there is apparently an ongoing grand jury investigation into the shooting would give the prosecutor the opportunity to contend that the video is not something that is subject to the public records laws because of the law enforcement investigatory exception," he said.

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