Edmond city attorney refuses to release records/dash-cam video regarding complaints of excessive force by police

Edmond won't release records and dash-cam video related to three complaints of excessive force by its police officers, The Edmond Sun reported Tuesday.

In response to a public records request by the newspaper, the city provided documents already available to the public: Two lawsuits filed in federal court and a tort claim filed by a third person.

City Attorney Steve Murdock refused to release records related to three other complaints/claims of excessive force by Edmond police. Murdock told the newspaper the records are part of the city attorney's litigation file and may be kept secret by the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Murdock said the dash-cam video also is part of the city attorney's litigation file and could not be released without permission of all the parties involved.

He also refused to release city jail video of an incident involving an officer. Murdock said that video is part of a protective order issued in one of the federal lawsuits filed against the city and could not be released with the judge's permission.

The Open Records Act says a city attorney's office "may keep its litigation files and investigatory reports confidential." (OKLA. STAT. tit. 51, § 24A.12)

The Oklahoma Press Association's executive vice president noted that the city is not required to keep the records secret.

The statute does not say the city attorney "shall" keep the records confidential, said Thomas, a former president of FOI Oklahoma and a member of its board of directors.

Thomas also challenged Murdock's assertion that the city needed someone's permission before releasing public records, including the dash-cam video.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.