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July 3, 2018, 8:25 PM

State appeals court temporarily blocks release of NYPD body cam footage

By Victoria Bekiempis

A state appeals court barred the NYPD from releasing video from body cams worn by cops while police union's suit against the disclosure continues. (Bebeto Matthews / AP)

A state appeals court on Tuesday ruled that NYPD body camera footage will not be released while police advocates appeal the department’s decision to disclose the recordings.

Judges from the Appellate Division, 1st Department, also said in their ruling that appeals arguments in ongoing litigation over body cam footage would take place in November.

This decision stems from a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in January, and a lower court judge’s subsequent ruling against the city’s largest police union.

While the NYPD doesn’t permit the blanket release of body-worn camera footage, officials have given the green light to release some video on a case-by-case basis.

The PBA contends in its lawsuit that even releasing clips violates section 50-a of the 1976 state Civil Rights Law – which prohibits releasing personnel and disciplinary records.

PBA honchos have argued that body cam footage is a type of personnel record – barring its disclosure under 50-a.

PBA President Patrick Lynch praised the decision.

“We are grateful that the appellate panel recognized that police officers’ rights and safety need to remain protected while it weighs the important issues raised in our suit,” Lynch said in a statement. “The NYPD’s illegal and arbitrary release of body-worn camera footage should be unacceptable to anybody who is interested in privacy, transparency or even basic fairness. We look forward to making that case when our full appeal is heard."

Asked for comment, the city Law Department said, “At an early stage in the PBA’s appeal, the court has decided that it should have a full opportunity to consider the issues before body-worn camera footage is released.”