A Superior Court Judge ordered Tuesday that bodycam footage from the fatal shooting of a Goldsboro Avenue man by Sanford Police in March be released to WRAL TV, the Rant has learned.
According to documents on file at the Lee County Clerk of Court, Judge Winston Gilchrist granted a motion by WRAL attorneys requesting the release of the footage with the stipulation that the face of a minor which appeared in the video be blanked out.
While Gilchrist has granted the motion for the footage’s release, a written order has apparently not yet been presented for his signature, meaning the video remains private until such paperwork can be signed and delivered to the Sanford Police Department.
Three Sanford Police officers remain on administrative leave while the State Bureau of Investigation investigates the March 27 incident, in which Juan Carlos Romero, 41, is alleged to have fired shots at them as they responded to a report that he had shot his 19-year-old daughter. Romero, who apparently had a history of abuse allegations against the young woman, died at the scene. Romero’s daughter was not fatally wounded.
Notes from Tuesday’s hearing indicate that WRAL attorneys apparently provided a memo from the State Bureau of Investigation which said the organization was not opposed to the video’s release. But Vernon Stewart, the elected district attorney for Lee and Harnett counties, was on hand to argue against the video’s release, saying that the shooting remained under investigation and that there were further interviews to conduct. Attorneys for the Sanford Police Department joined Stewart in objection.
The Sanford Herald (subscription required) and others have reported that Romero’s family disputed the police version of the story:
Authorities say Romero proceeded to shoot at the three officers who arrived on the scene. The officers then shot at Romero, killing him.
But that’s not how Nava remembered it.
“I saw when he got shot,” Nava told The Herald on Thursday. “He didn’t pull the trigger. I didn’t hear a gunshot. He didn’t shoot. They were already shooting him, that’s what I’ve seen.”
Marco Ruiz, Romero’s nephew, declined to comment but referred The Herald to an article written by the local Latino news outlet “QuePasa,” where he was quoted in Spanish.
“My uncle had his hands up when they shot at him,” Ruiz reportedly said. “I saw when he crouched and then got up with his hands up and empty. In that moment I asked the policemen to let me talk to him but they started shooting.”
As of this writing, WRAL has yet to report on their victory in court. It is unclear when – or if – the news organization will air the footage of the shooting.