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Green Bay, WI: Body cams for cops now required, struggle for justice for Jonathon Tubby continues

By staff |
December 17, 2020
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Green Bay, WI - On the evening of December 15, the Green Bay City Council voted unanimously to require the Green Bay Police Department to wear body cameras while on duty, part of a $2.5 million overhaul to the department over five years. This comes over two years after Jonathon Tubby of the Oneida Nation was shot five times in the sally port of the GBPD building, murdered by Officer Erik O’Brien while he laid on the ground, handcuffed, pepper sprayed, and restrained by a police dog. The implementation of a body camera policy for officers of the GBPD is a win for the family of Jonathon as it was one of the primary demands in their fight for justice.

“The family of Jonathon Tubby supports the decision of the Green Bay city council for finally getting body cams for the police force. In Jonathon’s case it’s too late but we hope this prevents any Green Bay officer from killing anyone else. Everything we’ve done since October 19, 2018 was to prevent any other family from experiencing what we went through,” read a statement prepared for Fight Back! by the Tubby family after the decision.

The statement continued, “We hope that having the body cams will prevent more killings and hold officers accountable for their actions. We also hope that the body cams will hold officers accountable for not stepping in and protecting the people they are to protect and serve.”

The total package for the police department includes the body cameras and training officers in de-escalation. A significant portion of the cost was covered by the Green Bay Packers football team, which offered approximately $750,000 to offset the purchase. Many of the city council members raised concerns about the price of the body cameras, but ultimately relented as members of the Green Bay community attending the virtual council meeting called their priorities into question.

The only video evidence of Tubby’s murder came from cameras in the police vehicles. Due to “lack of evidence” and incomplete and false officer testimony, Erik O’Brien was never charged, and later received a promotion to sergeant by the department.

The requirement of body cameras by GBPD is an important step in making sure the people of Green Bay can hold out-of-control police officers accountable for their violence. It shows how community demands can force a police department to take a second look at their conduct. That being said, many understand that simply having these cameras is not enough.

“We celebrate the council’s vote as a victory in the struggle for justice for Jonathon, but we know that cops in other cities around the country continue to kill and get away with murder even while wearing cameras,” said Aodhan Bowman, a member of the Wisconsin Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “In order to hold these killers accountable, and try to prevent more of the same from happening again, we need community control of the police and CPAC.”

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