LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - While Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has said state law KRS Chapter 67C prevents him from releasing information on the Breonna Taylor case, at least one first amendment attorney says it’s not the open record laws holding him back.
“The law does not prevent him from talking about it,” attorney Jon Fleischaker told WAVE 3 News. “If the law prevented him from talking about it, there’d be some serious first amendment issues.”
KRS Chapter 67C states that when a police officer has been charged with a violation of departmental rules or regulations, no public statements shall be made concerning the alleged violation by any person or persons of the consolidated local government or the police officer so charged, until final disposition of the charges.
“State law 67C imposes essentially a gag order about what I can say publicly about matters related to any kind of investigation being conducted by LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit such as an officer-involved shooting,” Fischer said Thursday.
However, the law in question does not mention comments made about matters outside of departmental rules, such as in a criminal investigation.
Fleischaker pointed to all the other officer-involved shooting cases where LMPD has released the body camera video, sometimes on the same day. The department then holds a press conference to talk about the case. He also mentioned that the city has already released some information in the Breonna Taylor case like the 911 calls, the incident report, interviews with Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and the officer he shot, John Mattingly.
“One can suggest, I think appropriately, that if the mayor had been more forthcoming and released information as it was available to him,” Fleischaker said, “perhaps we wouldn’t have the type of major disruption as a result of pretests because many of the protests are a result of the fact that he has been totally silent on what occurred.”
Fleischaker said he’s fought against the mayor’s administration to get public records many times before. He says the state’s open records laws are strong enough to have the information released.
"We've had on several instances where we've had to go to court even though the law supports us," he said. "So the law is strong, the willingness of the Mayor to abide by the law and the willingness of LMPD to abide by the law is very frustrating."
The attorney for Taylor’s family, Sam Aguiar, has also expressed his frustration with a lack of transparency after having to file contempt allegations against the city for not releasing information, such as Taylor’s autopsy report, even though it was already completed.
Fischer and LMPD have also come under fire by the attorneys representing the victims in the Explorer child sex abuse scandal after the city filed their own motions to prevent the attorneys from receiving information about the case.
The Explorer case became public in 2017. Four years later, the victim's attorneys are still waiting for more than 9,000 files of information once gathered by LMPD.