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Little Rock ATF Incident Update: Agents Were Not Wearing Body Cameras as per ATF Policy

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ATF agent
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

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Arkansas Republican Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman are pushing for answers about ATF’s March 19th SWAT raid, during which Little Rock Airport executive Bryan Malinowski was shot and killed in his own home.

“The Department of Justice confirmed to us last night that the ATF agents involved in the execution of a search warrant of the home of Bryan Malinowski weren’t wearing body cameras. We will continue to press the Department to explain how this violation of its own policy could’ve happened and to disclose the full circumstances of this tragedy. Mr. Malinowski’s family and the public have a right to a full accounting of the facts,” the Senators said in a joint statement released Friday.

ATF has yet to comment officially about Malinowski’s killing, other than to claim he fired first. But Malinowski’s family recently said in a statement that the 53-year-old airport executive likely did not know he was trading gunfire with federal agents. It is far more likely he believed he was defending himself and his wife from armed home invaders.

A yet-unidentified ATF agent shot Malinowski in the head with a carbine at least once. Malinowski lingered for two days before dying of his wounds.

A story published last week chronicled a host of less-lethal tactics ATF could have used during the raid — any one of which would have spared Malinowski’s life.

The Senators are not the only elected officials seeking answers from ATF. Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has serious questions, too.

“As someone who couldn’t be a bigger law enforcement supporter, when our government acts in a particular way that raises questions, we have an obligation to say something. My understanding, having looked at the ATF rules is that they generally require a bodycam when there’s a preplanned raid, right? Why? Well, because information from a camera helps fill the vacuum of conspiracy and all this other stuff. So, record it with a bodycam that’s required and then there’s policy that it shall be released as soon as possible,” Griffin said during an interview with local media last week.

A Justice Department memo titled “Use of Body-Worn Cameras by Federally Deputized Task Force Officers,”recommends that local police officers assigned to a federal task force should use body cameras during “a planned attempt to serve an arrest warrant or other planned arrest; or the execution of a search warrant.”

If the cameras capture law enforcement actions resulting in “serious bodily injury or death,” the memo requires that the federal sponsoring agency and the U.S. Attorney should release the recordings “as early as possible.”

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