San Diego Police Misconduct, Use Of Force Records Can Now Be Released
Records about police misconduct and use of force are set to be released beginning Monday after a stay ordered by a judge was lifted. That means the public should now be allowed to see past records of police shootings, use of force and sexual assault from some San Diego County departments named in a lawsuit.
A new state law, SB 1421, says law enforcement agencies must make public internal reports about officers investigated for police shootings and use of force, and who were found to have committed sexual assault or lied during the course of an investigation.
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But eight local police unions sued, claiming only records from after the law went into effect in 2019 should be released. At the beginning of March, San Diego Superior Court Judge Eddie Sturgeon ruled the law applies to past records, but he put a hold on releasing them until March 29.
That stay was meant to give the unions time to appeal. But Matthew Halgren, a First Amendment attorney with Sheppard Mullin who is representing KPBS and several local media organizations in the case, said it appears that hasn't happened.
"It appears that the unions have not sought or obtained relief from the court of appeal, so the agencies should now release their records relating to pre-2019 conduct and incidents," he said.
The lawyer for the police unions did not return a request for comment on whether the unions planned to file an appeal.
Just because the stay is now lifted does not mean records will be immediately released. Some local police departments have sent letters to KPBS saying it will take time to review and redact records.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department, which was not involved in the lawsuit, has already begun to release records on its website. The documents detail deputies who were fired for sexual assault and lying in the course of an investigation.
The Chula Vista Police Department also released one record about an officer who was fired for having consensual sex in public. The departments in Carlsbad and Coronado said they had no records to release.