King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is pushing for a change in state law that would allow law enforcement to access red light, traffic safety and toll camera footage while investigating crimes.
Wednesday, the House Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on HB 1047. The bill would allow police and prosecutors to see photographs, videos and other recorded images from mounted cameras after they’ve obtained a search warrant. The measure, introduced by Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, has bipartisan support.
Seattle police said earlier this year that they would have liked to check cameras while investigating two homicides. In April, Nicole Westbrook, 21, was fatally shot by a gunman in a passing car. Westbrook was killed in Pioneer Square, a short distance from where one camera is located. Investigators said they also would have liked to check cameras in the Central Area, not too far from where Justin Ferrari, 43, was slain while driving with his family in May.
No one has been arrested in Westbrook’s slaying. Andrew Jermain Patterson has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Ferrari’s death. Patterson had allegedly been aiming his gun at a man who had insulted him when he killed the Madrona man.
Washington is among the few states that bar police from using images from red-light cameras in criminal investigations. The way the 2005 law was drafted, even if a homicide, abduction or any other serious crime occurs within full view of the cameras, the images cannot be used by police, according to prosecutors.