This week we focus our attention on the Unimaginable Decision from the Alabama Supreme Court that guts the Open Records Act related to body cam footage or any other investigative material in the possession of Law Enforcement…even after the investigation is concluded
But at Backstory Podcast we are going a step further and will tell you about the underlying case (the shooting death of Jonathan Victor by a Baldwin County Deputy) of a motorist who was non-compliant and lost his life (turns out he was holding a fanny pack). Gabriel Tynes, Jason Johnson, and Rob Holbert (Editor) at the Lagniappe Mobile Newspaper have written extensively about the case and sued Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Mack for not disclosing the materials in his possession as specified by the Alabama Open Records Act. And our most conservative Alabama Supreme Court Member, Chief Justice Tom Parker is the only person on the bench that cares about your right to see this information. The rest of the Court will leave it at the “discretion” of the Sheriff.
After Jonathan Victor, Robert Yates, Kevin Andrews, Joseph Andrews, and Peyton Little we have no faith in our Sheriff nor his cozy pal DA Robert Wilters will ever do “The Right Thing”. Now AL.com, the Alabama Political Reporter, and the Alabama Press Association are all a day late and a dollar short. “While the statute was poorly written in the first place, the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision today will allow law enforcement in this state to operate in complete and total darkness and will give them the ability to classify any document that should 100 percent be open to the public as ‘investigative materials,’ therefore shielding them from any accountability whatsoever. This is certainly not the intent of the open records law and is a travesty for journalists covering this state, but more so for the citizens of Alabama, as this information belongs to them,” Lagniappe co-publisher Ashley Trice said.
And pay special attention at the press conference, Jonathan Victor was portrayed as a drug user when, in fact, the drugs in his system were administered by paramedics after he was shot from 7 yards by an AR-15. And all of this was investigated, not by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ABI) but the Sheriff’s own Major Crimes Unit. A total corruption of the idea of an independent scrutiny. And the Baldwin County Commission just approved $667,000.00 for new Body Cams and related equipment last week at their budget meeting. Tell them to spend the money on something else if the materials recorded don’t belong to the public.