SALT LAKE CITY -- Reacting to a pair of police shootings of African-American men that were captured on video, the head of the Salt Lake branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said she encourages more people to film encounters with officers.
The shootings of Alton Stirling and Philando Castile both had aspects of it filmed on cell phones. In Castile's case, his girlfriend broadcast the aftermath on Facebook. Williams said the NAACP has long offered advice on their rights when encountering police, but she also supported people filming their interactions with officers.
"We encourage them to do that," Jeanetta Williams said in an interview Thursday with FOX 13. "Hopefully, the police won't say, 'Put your phone down.' Because now I think with today's technology they're on camera and I think it's a good thing to do."
Police groups said that, with few exceptions, they did not object to the NAACP's suggestion. Bret Rawson, an attorney with the Utah State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, said they did not have problems with it -- so long as it didn't interfere with an arrest or an investigation.
Utah Peace Officer Standards & Training, which certifies and disciplines police officers in the state, said it did not object and pointed out that officers should have their body cameras on anyway.
Williams said the NAACP has been working with police agencies statewide to encourage greater accountability and transparency, with some positive results. The Utah State Legislature recently passed bills requiring outside investigations in a police shooting, more body cameras for officers and training on de-escalating a situation. Those bills passed with support from police organizations.
Williams said recently, the NAACP has been working with Salt Lake City police in the aftermath of the shooting of 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed. Police claim he was shot outside the downtown homeless shelters after threatening officers with a weapon. That shooting, which triggered protests, remains under investigation.