Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik Stonewalling Media For Information On Shooter

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was very quick to blame the words and actions of Rush Limbaugh and Tea Party activists for the shooting rampage by 22-year-old Jared Loughner that left a federal judge and four others dead and criticially injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, but his own office is refusing to release information to the news media about Loughner's prior run-ins with law enforcement, including possible death threats he had made. Dupnik first told the media last Saturday of law enforcement's previous run-ins with Loughner and the awareness he had some mental health issues, but he refused to offer any specifics. Campus police at the community college he attended had barred Loughner from attending classes there recently until he received a mental evaluation, but they are also stonewalling media requests for more information. The Arizona Republic reports:

Sheriff's Department and community-college officials in Pima County are refusing to release a wide range of public documents about the man charged in Saturday's shooting rampage that left six dead and more than a dozen wounded.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department and Pima Community College have declined to release documents that could shed light on run-ins they had with 22-year-old Jared Loughner in the months prior to the shooting.

The Arizona Public Records Law requires that records be "open to inspection by any person at all times" unless officials can prove releasing the information would violate rights of privacy or confidentiality or otherwise harm the best interests of the state.

The Arizona Republic requested that records, including incident reports on campus and calls for dispatch of deputies to Loughner's home, be released under the law. Such reports are often released as a matter of course in criminal cases.

College officials have not indicated when or if they will release the information, saying they want prior approval from the FBI and are concerned about violating federal laws protecting the privacy of student information. The Republic did not request student academic records.

Pima Community College officials confirmed Saturday that they suspended Loughner after a series of outbursts in classrooms and the library, five of which involved campus police.

College Chancellor Roy Flores said Saturday the information would be released by Sunday. But by Tuesday, the information had not been released. College officials said the FBI wants to review any information first . . .

On Monday, The Republic requested copies of any reports from the Pima County Sheriff's Department involving contacts with Loughner or calls to his house. Pima County Deputy Rene Carlson said her office would not release the reports without a specific date, though this is not required by state statute.

Carlson said providing these documents would be tantamount to releasing criminal history.

Carlson said she could not speculate on the nature of any calls for service regarding Loughner. She also said no calls or incidents involved threats made by Loughner.
Notice how Dupnik's office is now contradicting earlier statements made by Dupnik that Loughner had made previous death threats. "Dupnik said there had been earlier contact between Loughner and law enforcement after he had made death threats, although they had not been against Giffords," Reuters earlier reported. "He said the authorities believe he may not have been working alone." Dupnik has also backed away from his earlier claims that Loughner had help in carrying out his shooting rampage. It looks like Dupnik is more intersted in covering his own ass than conducting professional law enforcement investigations in Pima County. This might explain why he has been so anxious to scapegoat someone else for Loughner's actions.

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting the sheriff's department had visited Loughner's home on more than one occasion prior to last weekend's shooting rampage. Details on those visits are not known.

UPDATE: The Arizona Republic has now obtained records from the Pima Community College concerning run-ins Loughner had in class and at the school's library. Most of the incidents aren't real serious, but it paints a picture of a disconnected individual. He got angry and frightened his pilates teacher when he learned she was giving him a "B". He wrote "Mayhem Fest" on a math exam, but it turned out that was in reference to a rock concert. It includes the YouTube posting he made in response to his reaction to a student reading a poem about abortion in class. Loughner suggeted we live in a "genocide country" and should "strap bombs to babies" and stated he did not believe in God. The sheriff's department has also detailed its contact with members of the Loughner household. It's not very revealing. Most are trivial in nature.

1 comment:

Downtown Indy said...

In one of Dupnik's early press appearances, he said the judge who was killed was a close friend and clearly seemed upset as he said that. Dupnik has let his personal feelings enter the process and he should step aside from direct involvement in the case before he does something to jeopardize the legal proceedings.