A state judge on Friday ordered the partial release of body camera videos showing two officers shooting and killing a man who lunged at them with a knife.
Judge Peter Fauver had delayed release of the shooting video after a lawyer for Hagan Esty-Lennon's ex-wife and children asked that it be kept private on the grounds that it was graphic and would upset the children. They said it was an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
The Concord Monitor, the Valley News, the Union Leader Corp., WMUR-TV and NH1 News, along with the town of Haverhill, its police department and the American Civil Liberties Union-New Hampshire, pressed to get the videos released.
There are body camera recordings from the two Haverhill officers involved in the shooting, a body camera video from a sergeant who arrived after Esty-Lennon had been shot and a dashboard camera video.
Fauver on Friday said the video from the two responding officers showing what led to the shooting can be made public, but portions showing Esty-Lennon's "death-scene" would be removed because they show "up-close and graphic" images. About four minutes of each officer's recording will be removed. Fauver ordered the full release of the sergeant's body camera video and dashboard video, saying neither of them contained graphic images. He also ordered the full release of audio recordings.
Fauver said the ruling balances the family's right to privacy with the public's right to know if the police acted appropriately.
William Chapman, who represented Newspapers of New Hampshire, and Gilles Bissonnette of ACLU-NH said they need clarification on whether the video will be redacted from the actual moment of the shooting or the moments immediately afterward. They say the moment of the shooting should be released.
Chapman also said the four-minute gap in the video could contain nongraphic images of what the officers did after Esty-Lennon was shot and the public may have a right to know how they acted.
The attorney general's office, after reviewing the videotapes, had deemed the shooting to be justified.
Before his July 6 encounter with police, the 42-year-old Canterbury man was involved in a car accident and had a self-inflicted knife wound to the chest when he left the scene of the accident, the attorney general's office reported. Bystanders summoned police to assist him.
Fauver asked the attorney general's office to show him edited versions of the videos by Sept. 14 and said he'd release them Sept. 21.