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A video exists showing the April 21 shooting at the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City that killed a defendant, but the court has no plans to release it.
Both a federal court clerk and the FBI confirmed Monday the existence of a video showing a U.S. marshal shooting Siale Angilau during Angilau's racketeering trial. The disclosures were the first that such video exists.
D. Mark Jones, clerk for the U.S. District Court in Utah, said videos taken inside the courtrooms are not disclosed to the public as a matter of policy. Chief Judge Ted Stewart, Jones said, has no plans to release the Angilau video.
"To have the identity of the court staff, the jury, the security there the probative value of having the tape for the public is so small compared to the security risk," Jones said. "It doesn't make any sense in our view."
An attorney for Angilau's family, Bob Sykes, said he is preparing a letter to Stewart asking him to provide a copy to his clients.
Sykes said the Angilau family is worried excessive force was used. Sykes has interviewed some people who were in the courtroom, but said many of them missed the shooting because it happened so quickly or their view was obstructed.
"The video doesn't lie," Sykes said. "We'd like to know what happened."
Agent Todd Palmer, spokesman for the FBI in Utah, said at least one camera in the courtroom captured the entire event. He did not know if multiple cameras recorded the shooting.
"The video is the property of the United States District Court," Palmer said. "It is not the property of the FBI. So whatever circumstances surrounding the release would have to go through the district court."
Palmer has not seen the video, but he said FBI agents investigating the shooting and staff at the U.S. Department of Justice watched it.
On July 14, the Department of Justice announced the marshal was justified in shooting Angilau. No federal agency has identified the marshal.
Angilau, 25, had been identified by federal prosecutors as a member of the Tongan Crip Gang and was indicted on racketeering charges in May 2010.
On the first day of his trial, Vaiola Mataele Tenifa was testifying about how Tongan Crip members enter the gang. According to witnesses, Angilau jumped from the defense table and attempted to punch Tenifa. Some witnesses said Angilau appeared to have a pen or pencil.
The FBI has said the marshal shot Angilau four times.
Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C., said Stewart's order likely supersedes public record laws. Anyone wanting the video, Leslie said, would have to file a motion with the judge.
"In short, records of proceedings in a public courtroom should always be open and available to the public," Leslie said, "but it sounds like it will be hard to convince this judge of that."
Angilau's trial was the first at the new federal courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.