The following statement may be attributed to ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga:
The ACLU of Virginia is pleased that the temporary restraining order prohibiting the release of the name of a Fairfax County police officer involved in the Jan. 17, 2017, shooting of Mohammad Azim Doudzai has been vacated.
"We continue to be concerned, however, about whether the county or the court have assigned the appropriate weight to the public’s important right to know in determining when the officer’s name can be released. We are now several days beyond the 10 days allowed before disclosure in the county’s own policy regarding disclosure of the names of officers involved in the killing of a community member, and we still don’t have information confirming the number of officers involved in Mr. Doudzai’s death, much less their names. That is true even though the county’s policy is a far cry from the 48-hour time period that the ACLU of Virginia believes is adequate to take steps to protect an officer or the officer’s family if needed before the name release.
"We also remain concerned by the finding in the original TRO that the mere fact that the officer was of a different race or ethnicity from the person killed could be one of three factors used in judging whether release of the officer’s name would amount to a ‘state created danger.’ That fact cannot and should not be determinative in judging the possibility of danger arising from the release of the officer’s name. We’re also concerned by the idea implicit in the language of the order that the threat of possible online criticism or threatening language, without more, might be determined to be a ‘danger’ sufficient to warrant throwing a cloak of secrecy over the officer(s) involved.
"We urge the chief of police to complete his threat assessment without further delay, take whatever steps, if any, he finds are needed to protect the physical safety of the officer and his family, and release the names of all of the officers involved immediately. In addition, the department should release to the public all video of the Doudazi shooting in its possession, and request an independent investigation of the shooting be conducted by the Virginia State Police or another independent outside agency, if this is not already underway.
"Because of its experience with the Gere shooting case, the Fairfax County Police Department should know better than any law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth the corrosive effect that a culture of secrecy can have on police/community relations and the ability to engage in effective community policing. Trust cannot be nurtured in the absence of transparency and resultant accountability. The department must act deliberately and quickly to make the names of all of the officers involved in Mr. Doudzai’s death and related video public now."