Grieving father files bill in fight against blogger

Grieving father files bill in fight against blogger
Jackson Bayers (Source: Family photo)
Jackson Bayers (Source: Family photo)

Editor's Note: After this story was published, the blogger involved contacted WAVE 3 News.   He provided a copy of his appeal to the Attorney General, in which he revised his request to exclude any photos of the child's body.

SPENCER COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - A man who tragically ran over his own toddler last February had to fight to keep the 18-month-old's autopsy photos from being released to a blogger.

Brian Bayers now wants to make sure no other family has to deal with the issue again.

Tuesday, a new piece of legislation was filed by Representative James Tipton to prevent autopsy pictures, video or audio from being released to the general public. According to Tipton, the actual autopsy reports would not be restricted. The law would be the first in the state to place any restrictions on autopsy reports.

Bayers accidentally ran over his 18-month-old son, Jackson last February. By June, a blogger had filed an open records request for the images of the autopsy and those from the scene. Spencer County denied the request, as did the State Attorney General, after the blogger appealed on grounds that the investigation was flawed.

The Attorney General stated there would be no significant value to releasing such images for the public's good, especially when compared to the grief it would cause family members.

Bayers reached out to Tipton for help.

"My wife, she was protected from a lot of that as well as the rest of my family, and um, my biggest fear was for them," Bayers said.

The bill would allow family members, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, coroners, public health officials, physicians and insurance companies to have access to the images, according to a press release. The name of the victim, social security number and address would have to be redacted in such cases.

Those outside of the agencies would have to go before the circuit court where the autopsy was performed to plead their case for the release of the images. The court would then determine if the public value outweighs the grieving family's right to privacy. 

Constitutional Attorney Jon Fleischaker agrees with the proposed bill.

"What are you trying to do? Are you trying to convey information about the operation of government to the public or are you trying or do you just want them for the shock value?" he asked.

"Right now anyone in Kentucky can gain access to any photos, video and audio of an autopsy without any consideration for the person's family and friends, or without any purpose of using it other than to sensationalize the victim's death,"  Tipton said in the release.

Bayers questions why a blogger would want to publish the images of his son's body.

"Graphic pictures of my son, my deceased son need to be protected, not only for my family and for myself, but for my son's honor," Bayer's said.

The bill would also include a $500 fine for the use or release of an image without consent on the first offense. After that, the fine would be $1,000.

The review the proposed legislation, click here.

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