A handful of residents took issue with recently released police body camera footage surrounding a Nov. 16 traffic stop involving City Manager Shohreh Dupuis during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
A Laguna Beach police officer pulled over Dupuis on Coast Highway for holding her cell phone while driving last year, prompting the council to vote on March 21 to release the body cam video in the interest of transparency four months after the incident.
The city released the body camera footage to the public on April 6. In it, Dupuis tells the officer who pulled her over that she was talking to Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert. Some residents felt the video was misleading and suggested the city edited the footage from the original version.
“In a further attempt to dissuade viewers from bothering to watch the unedited video, the PR team’s added commentary represents that the only difference between the edited and the original video is that the edited version is annotated to ‘denote timeliness and other related information to clarify the sequence of phone calls that prompted the traffic stop,'” said Laguna Beach resident James Grossberg, who was one of the speakers to address the council about the footage. “The commentary also states that the edited version ‘shows the entirety of the interaction that took place between the police officer and Ms. Dupuis.’ Both of those statements are false because the edited version deletes critical opening seconds of the original video and misleadingly speeds up another portion of it.”
Grossberg went on to say that during more than three decades of handling public access matters for news organizations ranging from the Los Angeles Times to all three major broadcast networks, he’s never seen anything like it.
I have never before witnessed such an elaborately packaged release of a public record pursuant to a citizen’s public record request, much less, such blatant altering of the record and added misinformation that has occurred here,” he told councilmembers.
Dupuis said she wouldn’t comment on the residents’ concerns during the April 18 council meeting. However, she addressed the situation at the Jan. 10 meeting, stating she was given a citation for being on the phone and plans to pay the $160 ticket. She has also apologized for the incident.
“I told the officer that I was sorry that I was on the phone and I was talking to Chief Calvert,” Dupuis said. “I did not ask to not to be given a ticket. He asked for my driver’s license and registration, and he wrote me a ticket.”