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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch Sues for January 6 DC Police Bodycam Videos

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the District of Columbia for all bodycam footage captured by Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officer Michael Fanone and all audio/video captured by MPD officers who responded to the protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 (Judicial Watch v. District of Columbia (No. 2024-CAB-003453)).

 The lawsuit was filed after the Metropolitan Police Department denied Judicial Watch’s August 2021 request for:

All audio/video recordings captured on body-worn cameras from MPD officers during their response to protest activities in and around the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.

All body worn camera video captured by Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone when responding to protests at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.

The DC Metro Police rejected Judicial Watch’s request because the videos are “part of an ongoing investigation and criminal proceeding” and their release would result in an “invasion of privacy.” 

Judicial Watch appealed the denial, stating, “[T]he records in question are of great public interest, which outweighs any asserted privacy interests. Furthermore, the assertion of an ongoing criminal investigation does not preclude the release of the requested video, as police body-worn camera video is routinely released pending the conclusion of law enforcement proceedings.” 

The Metropolitan Police acknowledged receipt of the appeal but did not respond further.

In May 2021, CNN claimed to have received “exclusive footage” of DC Metropolitan Police Officer Fanone being “assaulted while defending the U.S. Capitol” during the protest on January 6, 2021, which it subsequently aired.

In July 2021, Fanone gave testimony to a House Select Committee in which he stated, “My body camera captured the violence of the crowd directed toward me during those very frightening moments. It’s an important part of the record for this Committee’s investigation and for the country’s understanding of how I was assaulted and nearly killed as the mob attacked the Capitol that day, and I hope that everyone will be able to watch it.”

Fanone, then 41, retired from the police at the end of 2021 and went on to write a book and become a contributor for CNN.

“The American people deserve the full picture from the incident at the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “What are they hiding? The DC Metropolitan Police Department should be transparent and release these secret January 6 videos.”

Judicial Watch is extensively investigating the events of January 6.

In February 2021, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit under the common law right of access to public records against the U.S. Capitol Police for emails and videos concerning the January 6, 2021, protest at the Capitol.

In April 2024, Judicial Watch received records from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, showing that the FBI opened a criminal investigation of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt after her killing and listed four “potential violations of federal law,” including felony rioting and civil disorder.

In January 2024, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of Aaron Babbitt and the Ashli Babbitt Estate against the U.S. Department of Justice for all FBI files on Ashli Babbitt.

In September 2023, Judicial Watch received records from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, a component of the Department of Justice, in a FOIA lawsuit that detailed the extensive apparatus the Biden Justice Department set up to investigate and prosecute January 6 protestors.

A previous review of records from that lawsuit highlighted the prosecution declination memorandum documenting the decision not to prosecute U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd for the shooting death of Babbitt.

In January 2023, documents from the Department of the Air Force, Joint Base Andrews, MD, showed U.S. Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd was housed at taxpayer expense at Joint Base Andrews after he shot and killed U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In November 2021, Judicial Watch released multiple audiovisual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about the shooting death of Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building. The records included a cell phone video of the shooting and an audio of a brief police interview of the shooter, Byrd.

In October 2021, United States Park Police records related to the January 6, 2021, demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol showed that on the day before the January 6 rally featuring President Trump, U.S. Park Police expected a “large portion” of the attendees to march to the U.S. Capitol and that the FBI was monitoring the January 6 demonstrations, including travel to the events by “subjects of interest.”

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