JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — Protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing at the hands of Minneapolis police have shined a national spotlight on police brutality and the systemic racism people of color have been rallying against for generations.
Two days after Floyd’s death, Modesto Reyes was shot and killed by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputies following a chase in Marrero.
The JPSO said Reyes pointed a gun at deputies before one officer shot him.
Reyes’s family and friends don’t believe that’s what happened and said he isn't the type of person who would engage in such behavior.
Unlike New Orleans police officers and Louisiana State troopers, JPSO deputies don’t wear body cameras.
“To the death of Modesto Reyes, if we had body cameras during that chase, we would know exactly what happened,” State Rep. Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey said. “We would know what the camera saw.”
“Whether the shooting was justified or not, if we had had the use of body worn cameras, you can simply go to the tape,” State Rep. Kyle Green, Jr., D-Marrero said. “It’s recorded.”
Lyons and Green both represent the west bank of Jefferson Parish in the state legislature.
Recently, Green sent an open letter to Sheriff Joe Lopinto, strongly urging his department to use body cameras.
“In my letter, I detailed an experience of one of my family members that was shot and killed by a law enforcement agency on the Westbank,” Green said. “That trauma is passed on from generations to generations.”
Lyons is sponsoring a measure in the legislature, HR9, asking the JPSO to implement a body camera program.
“In the light of what’s going on now in this country, it’s a statement to say here, we’re going to show you how well we do our jobs,” Lyons said. “We’re going to show you how we protect you. We’re going to show you the integrity of this department.”
A JPSO spokesman told WWL-TV they are not commenting on body cameras.
Two years ago, the sheriff said he’s not opposed them, but for now they are too expensive.
“The amount of calls that we do compared to the incidents that I'd love to have cameras for it becomes cost prohibitive,” Lopinto said in July 2018.
Neither state rep wanted to say what signals it would send to the community if the JPSO does not adopt a body camera program.
But they maintain cameras would be a step in the right direction and add a layer of transparency many have been longing for.
An 8-second video of the Reyes shooting was captured on a stun gun and shown to reporters.
The clip shows a man face down, who then rolls over with an object in his hand, before shots are fired. Deputies say that object was one of two guns Reyes possessed.