Update on Case of Sheriff Punching Woman in Face on Metro Bus: Metro Refuses Public Records Request

12.02.06 Newton Response Letter (2)

Earlier this week, the public records office of Metro refused a request by Los Angeles Streetsblog for a copy of the recording made by a Metro bus camera during the January 9th confrontation between a special needs woman and sheriff that led to the woman getting punched in the face.

A video caught by a “citizen journalist” shows the sheriff striking the woman with his fore arm while the woman is restrained by the sheriffs partners.  However, witnesses vary on what degree the woman instigated the incident.  Some claim the sheriff’s attack was unprovoked.  Others claim the woman was acting violently.  A copy of a tape that starts when the sheriffs enter the bus could tell a more complete story of what actually happened that day.

If the Sheriffs presence on Metro vehicles and stations is to keep us safe, Streetsblog believes the public has a right to know what happened in that incident and what actions are being taken to address that behavior.  Streetsblog will stay on top of this issue until we can report on the full story.

In the meantime, here’s the text of the legal code used to justify the rejection.  Sounds as though Metro and/or the sheriffs are facing a legal challenge.

6254. Except as provided in Sections 6254.7 and 6254.13, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require disclosure of records that are any of the following:

(b) Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the public agency is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810), until the pending litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.

(f) Records of complaints to, or investigations conducted by, or records of intelligence information or security procedures of, the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, the California Emergency Management Agency, and any state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local agency for correctional, law enforcement, or licensing purposes. However, state and local law enforcement agencies shall disclose the names and addresses of persons involved in, or witnesses other than confidential informants to, the incident, the description of any property involved, the date, time, and location of the incident, all diagrams, statements of the parties involved in the incident, the statements of all witnesses, other than confidential informants, to the victims of an incident, or an authorized representative thereof, an insurance carrier against which a claim has been or might be made, and any person suffering bodily injury or property damage or loss, as the result of the incident caused by arson, burglary, fire, explosion, larceny, robbery, carjacking, vandalism, vehicle theft, or a crime as defined by subdivision

(k) Records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.

6255. (a) The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.