Featured photo: Joseph Lopez was shot and killed by a Greensboro police officer in November 2021. (courtesy photo)

According to Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts, police body-worn camera footage from the Joseph Lopez killing could be released as early as Thursday. The move comes just days after a Guilford County grand jury indicted former Greensboro police officer Matthew Hamilton on a charge of manslaughter which resulted in his termination from the police department.

In an email to Triad City Beat, Watts stated that “the details have yet to be finalized,” but that “most likely it WL [sic] will be tomorrow, but we will see.”

Joseph Lopez was shot and killed by Hamilton on Nov. 19, 2021 in Greensboro. Since then, his father, Joe Lopez, has been seeking answers as to why his son was killed.

“Why couldn’t you do anything other than shoot my son?” Lopez asked during an interview with TCB from December 2021. “If there were 20 officers, why did only one choose to shoot my son?”

Joe Lopez, father of Joseph Lopez, wipes away tears during a press conference on June 6 at the Beloved Community Center. (photo by Juliet Coen)

If the police footage is released, citizens, as well as members of the Lopez family, will be able to see for themselves the events that led up to Hamilton shooting Joseph Lopez.

After members of the community brought up the Lopez case during Tuesday’s city council meeting, members of the council discussed how to release the footage to the public.

“We did make a motion before the court and we did receive an order allowing for the disclosure of the video tapes first to council and then to the public,” Watts said during the meeting. “So we share your interest.”

To that, District 1 representative Sharon Hightower asked who would get to see the tapes first.

“I want to make sure we all get to see it at the same time,” she said.

Hester Petty, center, covers her face in dismay during a city council meeting on June 7, 2022. (photo by Juliet Coen)

There appeared to be some confusion as to the format in which the police footage would be released. At first Watts noted that Hamilton’s attorney, Amiel Rossabi, could play a role in deciding what footage would be released as part of a compilation to the public. Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who told TCB that she was in favor of the footage being released on Monday, said that was not her understanding.

“My understanding is that [Rossabi] is going to see the compilation, but he’s not going to create the compilation,” Vaughan said.

Later during the meeting, Watts read directly from Judge William A. Wood’s order that allows for the release of the body-worn camera footage. The order, which was issued on Tuesday, states that “ten body worn camera recording captured by ten Greensboro police officers that depicts the incident resulting in the death of Mr. Lopez from the time the officers arrive at the storage shed in which Mr. Lopez was located on the property until Guilford County EMS began life-saving treatment” would be released to the general public. The order also notes that the “GPD may prepare a compilation of the recording which must be reviewed and approved by counsel for Officer Hamilton before it is released to general public or anyone.”

After some conversation, city council and Watts appeared to agree that both a compilation, as well as 10, full, unedited body-worn camera recordings, would be released at the same time.

“All video will be available,” Watts said.

Reached by phone on Wednesday afternoon, Lopez said he’s not looking forward to the footage being out.

Joe Lopez kneels next to his son, Joseph Lopez’s grave at Lakeview Memorial Park. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

“I’m not happy with it,” he said. “I just don’t want my daughters to see what happened to their brother, but that’s the only way that I see we’re going to get justice is for other people to see it.”

When asked if he was prepared to see the footage, Lopez was adamant that he was not going to watch it.

“I’m a strong person, but I’m not that strong,” he said. “I’m not strong enough to hear and see what happened to my son.”

For past reporting on the Lopez case, go here.

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