Q: Why did Norman police show the Joe Mixon video to the media Thursday?
A: The Oklahoman and several other news organizations made requests under the state Open Records Act for the surveillance video. The assistant city attorney who advises the police determined the video is an open record.
Q: Is this unusual?
A: Yes. In the past, Norman police would not have allowed the media to see a video that is evidence in a criminal case. “You run the chance of compromising the prosecution,” Norman Police Capt. Tom Easley said Wednesday. “This is the first time.”
Q: Why the policy change?
A: Under the law, police must make available for public inspection any record involving “facts concerning the arrest, including the cause of arrest.” The assistant city attorney determined the video is such a record.
Q: What was the thinking there?
A: Recent court decisions have expanded what is considered a record involving facts concerning the arrest. Last year, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled a police dash-cam video of a DUI arrest must be made public for that reason.
Q: But, that was a dash-cam video. The Mixon video is a surveillance video given to police. Doesn’t that make a difference?
A: No. Assistant City Attorney Rickey J. Knighton II said the definition of records is not limited to records created by public officials. “It includes records that are received by public officials or records that come into the custody, control or possession of public officials. That’s what this video is,” he said Wednesday.
Q: Why did police not release the video?
A: The assistant city attorney said the current Open Records Act only allows inspection of law enforcement records. He said a change in the law Nov. 1 will permit copying. The media disagreed with his position and sought the immediate release of the video. The attorney did not budge.
Q: So, how can the public see the video?
A: Make a request under the Open Records Act. Or, wait until Nov. 1 when news organizations get their copies and show it.