Thursday, February 16, 2012

Court rules use-of-force records open

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The state Supreme Court ruled today that the use-of-force records prepared by the officer involved in altercation with a man outside Ferneau Restaurant records are a matter of public record, affirming the Pulaski Circuit Court ruling in the case. (The Times reported on the altercation here and here and on the circuit court hearing here.)

Judge Wendell Griffen had previously ordered the Little Rock Police Department to turn over "use of force" documents concerning Lt. David Hudson to attorneys for Chris Erwin. While working as a private security guard at Ferneau, Hudson was filmed on video repeatedly hitting Erwin, a customer, in the face.

The city earlier had contended it had provided Erwin's lawyer all it was required to provide under the Freedom of Information Act and that the use-of-force records were exempt from the state Freedom of Information Act because they were part of an internal affairs inquiry.

Read the Supreme court ruling here.

The Supreme Court ruled that the use-of-force records were prepared not as a result of an investigation into the officer's job performance, but as routine reports all officers are required to make and which may or may not be considered in subsequent job evaluations.

The ruling unseals the use-of-force reports, which I'll post after I fetch them from the police. Two incidents at Ferneau, including the one involving Erwin and an earlier incident, are here.

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