Our news partners at The Frontier have filed a lawsuit against Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado after his office refused to release records requested through the Open Records Act.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, stems from an incident at the David L. Moss Correctional Center, where a mentally ill inmate wound up with life-threatening injuries, including a broken neck, back and pelvis, documents say.
Charges were dismissed against David Lee Fulps II more than a week following injuries incurred in an alleged assault a detention officer on April 9. He remains hospitalized.
According to The Frontier's editor-in-chief Ziva Branstetter, after submitting an open records request for records related to Fulps, Regalado’s spokesperson Casey Roebuck sent this back in an email:
“Jail surveillance video is not a law enforcement record subject to disclosure,” Roebuck emailed, according to Branstetter.
"The assertion that all videos recorded inside the David L. Moss jail are exempt from the Open Records Act is not supported by the law or past practice," the lawsuit by The Frontier says.
Branstetter says she also was denied by Regalado's staff when she requested records after a suicide attempt by a mentally ill inmate who had struggled with drugs and stolen a textbook.
"Though Regalado promised transparency when he was running for office, TCSO’s stance on jail videos is new and more restrictive. If allowed to stand, it would establish a statewide precedent that what goes on behind the jail’s bars is none of our business," Branstetter wrote in her column.
The lawsuit asks a judge to declare public interest outweighs Regalado's reason for refusing to release the information and also seeks payment of attorneys' fees.