Yesterday, Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry appeared on WTLC-AM's "Afternoons With Amos." The show's host, Amos Brown, asked Curry about the reason the video evidence was not being released to the media. Incredibly, Curry hid behind grand jury secrecy rules, claiming that it was against Indiana law to release the video evidence since it was evidence in a pending grand jury investigation. Curry said the videos might be released in the future after any grand jury proceedings had been concluded but not before then. Curry's claim is a complete misstatement of Indiana law. Indiana law gives law enforcement agencies discretionary authority to withhold investigative records. They may and do, however, release investigative records such as video evidence, 911 calls, police reports and other evidence all of the time when it serves their interest. The mere fact evidence will be presented at a grand jury proceeding doesn't bar its release to the public; rather, it's the testimony offered by witnesses and discussions of evidence during the grand jury proceeding that is subject to the secrecy rule.
Additionally, Brown asked Curry about whether his office responds to information requests from citizen journalists and bloggers regardless of their political affiliation or beliefs. Curry stated that his office fulfilled his 2010 campaign promise to be more open and responsive to the public and does generally respond to all inquiries. In fact, Curry's office has ignored repeated requests by Advance Indiana to respond to questions not only about the Long shooting but also the IMPD cover up of the citizen complaint Austin Joseph made in a 911 call on December 20, 2014 during which he reported observing an IMPD police car driven by Capt. Phil Burton being operated erratically at rates of speed topping 90 mph on a non-emergency run, or the death of Aaron D. Barnes in the home of Officer Gregory Slaven on April 5, 2014, whose body police sources told Advance Indiana was found in a sex bondage position wearing a chloroform mask. Perhaps Curry's office has no information to release about either of those incidents involving police officers, but there's no way of knowing that because his office won't even acknowledge receipt of the request for information. In both cases, the only reason Advance Indiana was able to provide any information to the public was because of concerns expressed by IMPD officers that proper investigations were not being conducted.
It is absolutely stunning just how little interest the traditional media in Indianapolis has in newsworthy stories involving very serious questions concerning police misconduct, particularly following the fatal alcohol collision of Officer David Bisard that cost taxpayers at least $10 million, not to to mention the loss of life. I can't imagine anywhere else in this country where the news media would display such a dismissive, disinterested attitude towards such matters. Nowadays, they seem only interested in writing press releases for the police and prosecutor. How times have changed from the days when reporters for the Indianapolis Star & News were conducting daily public battles with police and prosecutors and the newspaper's reporters were turning out blockbuster news stories of police and prosecutor corruption that won them a Pulitzer Prize.
On a final note, Advance Indiana has requested from the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department any 911 calls or police dispatch records regarding the Aaron D. Barnes death investigation. That request got routed to Samantha DeWester in the Corporation Counsel's office, who sent a letter this week denying the release of the requested records as a matter of discretion for the investigative records exception to the state's public records law, the catch-all exemption IMPD always uses to block release of any information it doesn't want the public to see. Recall that DeWester used that same exemption to deny Advance Indiana's request for the 911 call and dispatch records regarding Capt. Phil Burton, which the Sheriff's Department produced in response to the exact same request. Apparently, Sheriff John Layton has instructed his staff to forward all requests made by Advance Indiana to the Corporation Counsel's office and not respond to them as his office does for other media requests. Ask yourself: What are they hiding? Why did IMPD Chief Rick Hite announce a new policy this past week prohibiting any police officer from recording other officers or city officials? Who is he protecting and why?
UPDATE: I finally got this response from the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office today: