Following court order that St. Louis police department must release public records, police again refuse to release public records
ACLU of Missouri files suit against SLMPD
St. Louis, MO — Despite recent rulings that the Metropolitan Police Department of the City of St. Louis (SLMPD) must release certain investigative reports to the public, SLMPD has again withheld these open records and refused to give them to Curtis Farber. Because of this refusal violates the Sunshine Law, the ACLU of Missouri today filed suit against SLMPD on behalf of Mr. Farber.
“It should not take a lawsuit for a taxpayer to access this type of public information. Instead of continuing to assert a failed legal theory in order to keep public records secret, the department should embrace the transparency and accountability required by law,” explains Tony Rothert, Legal Director of the ACLU of Missouri. “It is beyond time for the police department to start following the law.”
In 2013, Mr. Farber filed a complaint with SLMD alleging officer misconduct; specifically, he alleged that several officers had physically abused him and threatened to falsify evidence against him. After MPDSL completed its internal investigation into his complaint, Mr. Farber made a written request under the Sunshine Law seeking a copy of the investigative report. MPDSL, however, denied him access to the records.
“Curtis Farber’s case gets to the very heart of why policing isn’t working in Missouri,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Missouri. “We had hoped that MPDSL would work to increase communication, transparency, and trust with the citizens it serves and protects.”
The ACLU of Missouri represented John Chasnoff in a similar case in which Mr. Chasnoff had requested copies of public records relating to officers use of World Series tickets they had previously confiscated from scalpers as evidence. In that litigation, SLMPD had unsuccessfully claimed that the internal investigative reports were closed records, using the same excuses it recently provided to Mr. Farber. In that case, SLMPD was eventually required to turn over the records and to pay more than $100,000 in attorneys’ fees.
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