Civil rights group calls for St. Pete Police to equip all officers with body cameras

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A civil rights group is calling for action by demanding the St. Petersburg Department equip their more than 500 police officers with body cameras.

The ACLU of Florida along with the civil rights group, National Christian League of Councils is relaunching a campaign to make body cameras law in St. Petersburg. 

The call for action comes just days after video surfaced online of a St. Petersburg man being tased twice while on the ground. You also see the man get hit by an officer.

The St. Petersburg Police Department has launched an investigation into the use of force, but they defend their actions. 

Related: St. Pete Police investigating video that shows officers using taser on man at gas station

A spokesperson for the department said Monday they responded to the Shell Gas Station off 34th Street South for a service call. They tell us when officers arrived they found Lamonte Stephens slouched over the wheel. They say when they went to talk with him, Stephens handed over a wrong ID. 

Cell phone video captured the moments after Stephens was already on the ground, not what led police and the suspect to the ground. 

Police allege Stephens had stolen property including cell phones and laptops in the car he was in. 

On Wednesday, standing in front of St. Petersburg’s City Hall — Sevell Brown III with the National Christian League of Councils said they are relaunching their campaign from 2014 to get the department with body cameras. 

“Many of the questions and answers of the conduct of all involved would be available to law enforcement, the media, and the total community if these officers were wearing body cams,” he said. 

The NCLC said they spearheaded the first campaign for the cameras in 2014, but it was opposed then by Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chief Anthony Holloway. 

Chief Holloway tells ABC Action News they have been looking into the body cameras since then, investigating different cameras, budgets and the best option for the department. 

Holloway says they want to make sure they have the latest research and information. 

Holloway plans to take a camera proposal to Mayor Kriseman by May or June and a final proposal with a budget to the city council by Fall. 

The chief has stated in the past he’s interested in the idea of a newer technology of giving officers a police issued gun with cameras on the end. 

The ACLU of Florida tells ABC Action News they aren’t just calling for St. Petersburg to use body cameras, but all departments across the Tampa area to do so too. 

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