KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Seven protesters demanding the release of police body camera video of a student’s fatal shooting at a Tennessee high school have been arrested.
Those charged were among dozens of demonstrators who filed into a Knox County Commission meeting Monday evening and raised their fists, news outlets reported. Most remained silent, but some were vocal in calling for authorities to release video from the April 12 shooting at Knoxville’s Austin-East Magnet High School that killed Anthony J. Thompson Jr., who was 17.
The seven arrested were charged with a misdemeanor for interfering with a commission meeting by physical action or verbal utterance, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kimberly Glenn said in a statement.
District Attorney Charme Allen has declined to release the video even as pressure mounts, saying it could damage the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the shooting.
“To release any part of the evidence in this case before we have collected all the evidence may taint things that are still being done,” Allen said last week.
On Tuesday, the Knoxville branch of the NAACP joined the call to release the footage. Branch president the Rev. Sam Brown said Allen’s refusal to release the footage “further erodes the already waning trust the community has for law enforcement and the criminal justice system.”
“We have to move forward to a place of healing and love and that only begins with the revelation of the truth,” Brown said.
Other officials, including Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, police Chief Eve Thomas and three of the four officers involved in the shooting also have called for the release of the video.
The mayor said the video was essential to restoring trust in police. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation initially said the student fired at police before he was killed, then later said the bullet that wounded an officer did not come from the student’s gun.
Meanwhile, officials were preparing to reopen the school Wednesday. All students will be screened with a metal detector wand as they enter the building, the school principal told news outlets.