Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on Friday in hopes of forcing a Missouri police department to hand over records they believe will reveal that a senior officer regularly ordered others officers to concentrate on minorities.
A whistleblower came forward about the situation in St. Louis County in May, alleging that Lt. Patrick Hayes would tell subordinate officers things like, “Let’s have a black day” and “Let’s make the jail cells more colorful,” according to The Riverfront Times.
After filing records requests hoping to look more closely at this officer’s communications, the ACLU’s representatives said they were denied access to all of it, despite a state law requiring such records to be turned over if a member of the public asks for them. The request specifically asked for several incident reports, all of which fall under the category of public records.
“They may feel that it will be embarrassing,” ACLU staff attorney Grant Doty told the Times on Monday. “They may feel that the document will reflect poorly on the department, but none of those are exceptions that the statute recognizes.”
The whistleblower in this case, former Sgt. Daniel O’Neil, was fired from the department before revealing himself as the source of the allegations. He is pursuing a discrimination claim against the department.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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