Nashville shooting body cam footage was released the day after. Why aren't others?

People gather to sign wooden crosses placed at a makeshift memorial by the entrance of the Covenant School Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Three children and three school staff members were killed by a former student in Monday’s mass shooting.

A day after three children and three adults were shot and killed at the Covenant School body camera footage from Metro Nashville Police Department officers was released to the public. This quick turnaround of footage from police isn't always typical. So, why does it take so much longer for other police departments?

Just two months ago, it took almost three weeks for footage to be released in the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis prompting a comparison between Memphis police's policy on releasing footage and Nashville's distribution policy. Now people are drawing comparisons between the response time and release of footage in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting and Nashville's response.

Police on Tuesday morning released two videos of Monday's Covenant School shooting — one showing Audrey Hale entering the building and a second set of edited, compiled body camera footage of police confronting the shooter.

The edited video marks the public's first glimpse of Hale, 28, who killed six during America's latest mass shooting.

The question remains though, why can Nashville police quickly release footage from body cameras and other surveillance, but other agencies take much longer?

Nashville police defer to the director's discretion

Don Aaron, the public affairs director of Nashville police, pointed to verbiage within the memorandum of understanding between the Metro Nashville Police Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney General of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County when it comes to release of materials.

"MNPD audio, video, incident scene photographs, 911 call recordings, recovered surveillance, etc. shall only be released to the news media or on any social media platforms after notifying TBI of its intended release. TBI understands that MNPD will make an independent decision as to when and if to (sic) release the above-listed items but agrees to notify TBI for situational awareness prior to its release," the memorandum reads.

In other words, Aaron confirmed, Nashville police released footage quickly at the direction of MNPD Chief John Drake. The department typically releases selected footage and denies media requests for more complete video during active investigations.

In Monday's school shooting, Nashville police sent two edited videos. One of Hale's entry and the other a more than eight minute video of from Officer Rex Engelbert's and Officer Michael Collazo's cameras.

Uvalde, Texas school shooting

Just 10 months ago, another mass shooting at a school ended in the death of 19 children and two teachers on May 24 at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. Outrage skyrocketed over the response of authorities who waited more than an hour before breaching a fourth grade classroom – even as terrified students dialed 911 for help.

The Nashville shooting response has brought back even more memories and ire from those that lost their children and members of the Texas legislature.

Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat from San Antonio whose district includes Uvalde and who has sharply criticized state law enforcement for its Uvalde response, posted on Twitter: "Nashville police neutralized the killer in 14 minutes. Then in less than 24 hours later they released body cam footage. Meanwhile, (the Texas Department of Public Safety) let the Uvalde killer wreak havoc for 77 minutes and made legislators sign NDAs to view footage. Ten months later, they have YET to be transparent."

Tyre Nichols body cam footage took three weeks to be released

It took three weeks for the City of Memphis to release footage from a fatal encounter with Memphis police and Tyre Nichols in January.

The question at the time was why it took so long, and that question is back again.

The almost three-week wait was historically brief for Memphis, a city that has typically not seen footage of police violence until investigations are complete months or a year later. And the stark contrast between Nashville and Memphis department policies on releasing footage was seen this week.

Memphis police have a similar memorandum with TBI as Nashville, except for one big, and important difference — the lack of a clause regarding when and how footage from use-of-force incidents can be released.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Statesman contributed to this report.

Joyce Orlando is an audience specialist with The Tennessean. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville shooting body cam footage released quickly. Why not others?