SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The FBI capped off its attempt to persuade a federal judge that it is not hiding unreleased surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by bringing witnesses Thursday who testified that there has never been any security-camera videos of the bomb going off.
Richard Williams, then assistant building manager with General Services Administration, said in the Salt Lake City trial that outside surveillance cameras pointing at where the bomb was detonated had not been operational for at least two year before the bombing.
“Everything that went on in the building went through us or in conjunction with us,” Williams said by video from Houston.
Retired FBI agent Stephen Brannan said he investigated allegations that two FBI agents tried to sell surveillance videos showing the bombing to a network TV news station for $1 million and determined it was a hoax. He said agents in Oklahoma told him unequivocally that there were no videos showing Timothy McVeigh arriving to the building in a Ryder truck or getting out.
Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue believes a video exists showing McVeigh was not alone in detonating the bomb. The government says McVeigh was the only one who detonated the bomb, which killed 168 people.
Trentadue filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI in 2008, saying the FBI has not adequately searched its archives for the security-camera video.
Trentadue said he believes the presence of a second suspect explains why his brother, who resembled a police sketch of a suspect, was flown to Oklahoma months after the bombing. His brother died in a federal holding cell.
If he wins, Trentadue hopes to be able to search for the tapes himself rather than having to accept the FBI’s answer that they don’t exist.
The trial is expected to conclude Thursday. There is no jury, and U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups is expected to rule at a later date.
The testimony from Williams and Brannan came a day after a former police officer who was at the bombing scene said he saw FBI agents climbing ladders and taking cameras off the federal building shortly after the attack that killed 168 people.
A woman who lost her two grandsons in the bombing also said Wednesday there were surveillance cameras in an apartment building she lived in that should have recorded the bomb going off. She said she observed a police officer and FBI agent in the building six months later talking about collecting the tapes.
Both acknowledged under cross-examination that they didn’t know if the cameras were operational, or if video was ever collected from them.
The FBI also brought to testify Thursday a former Oklahoma highway patrolman who arrested McVeigh after the bombing. Charles Hanger, now a county sheriff in Oklahoma, said the video from his dash-cam recorder does not show McVeigh or have any sound. Hanger said he didn’t turn on the camera until McVeigh was seated in his patrol car and didn’t get sound because he hit the wrong buttons on the machine.
As part of his request, Trentadue has asked to see the dash-cam video. An FBI employee testified that the video was returned to Oklahoma highway patrol several years ago.
The case reached trial because Waddoups was unsatisfied by the FBI’s previous explanations. The judge also cited the public importance of the tapes. The FBI has given Trentadue 30 video recordings, but none shows the explosion or McVeigh’s arrival in the truck.
Trentadue’s belief that the tape exists stems from a Secret Service document written after the bombing that describes security footage of the attack that shows suspects exiting the truck three minutes before the bomb detonated. A Secret Service agent testified in 2004 that the log does, in fact, exist but that the government knows of no videotape.