WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – When Val D’Auvray was found dead on the property of Tru Colors, a Wilmington brewery, police ruled his death as accidental, but his family members are not so sure.
Despite filing a missing person report with the Wilmington Police Department, police didn’t see it when they ran into him just a day before his death. His family says if that had that been done, they believe he would still be alive.
After viewing the body camera footage, his father, also named Val, said things just don’t add up.
He says police told him several things – his son was acting erratic when police interviewed him, that he was attempting to break into a nursing facility, and that he was not wearing shoes or a shirt.
Since North Carolina law claims body camera footage is not public record, only his father was permitted to see the video, however, WECT’s Investigative Reporter Michael Praats went to court to ask a judge to release the footage to the public. The judge agreed to release the video from the night before he was found on April 17, however, ruled against releasing the video from when police responded to his death on April 18, 2022.
A lawyer from the Wilmington Police Department did not object to the video from the first encounter being released, but vehemently opposed the release of the footage from April 18.
State law requires anyone requesting video from law enforcement to prove several points, including that the release of the video is “ … Necessary to advance a compelling public interest.”
Despite the arguments that this story is of great public interest, especially the initial investigation, since it is unclear how the determination was made that D’Auvray’s death was accidental, the judge disagreed and would not approve the release.
D’Auvray’s family said they question what evidence police collected and observed to reach the conclusion that the death was accidental.
The attorney for the police department argued the video contains sensitive information and that there was no good cause to release it and it was not of a compelling public interest.
Despite his brother Xan’s TikTok videos explaining Val’s story receiving more than half-a-million views, and national attention from true crime podcast ‘Missing,’ the judge sided with the WPD’s attorney. While the public might never get to see the footage from April 18, D’Auvray’s family continues to fight for an investigation into his death, and they’re skeptical about the determination of his death as accidental.
With four body camera videos released by the police department, the body camera footage shows how police interacted with D’Auvray and his claims that he was being chased by two people, one possibly holding a baseball bat.
In the interest of transparency, WECT is releasing the body camera footage obtained from that night. The video is edited for time and to remove minutes of footage where officers are walking the perimeter of the building and not interacting with D’Auvray. The unedited four videos have a runtime of approximately 45 minutes, the edited video is roughly 28 minutes.
D’Auvray is shown wearing a blue Sublime t-shirt, dark pants, and a backpack. The videos do show multiple angles of similar footage.
Timestamps of note: Val explains to police what he was doing, and that he was being chased: 00:45, Police run name in computer: 8:12, Police tell Joseph (Val) he is trespassed and free to go): 11:30, Police ask if anyone had a weapon: 27:54.
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