James Egan, Sued for Requesting Dash-Cam Videos, Is at It Again

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James Egan, the attorney hauled to court because he requested a slew of dash-cam videos from police, isn't giving up. Now he's got a new request: the same videos--but without sound.

You may recall that City Attorney Pete Holmes filed a lawsuit against Egan seeing "guidance" on whether releasing dash-cam videos violates the state's privacy act. Egan says that's nonsense, and a letter he sent to SPD on Monday specifies that he is not withdrawing his earlier request for the complete videos, sound and all.

Egan notes in a separate statement that the city cited no privacy concerns when it released videos of police encounters with John T. Williams, the Native American woodcarver shot by an officer, and with accused cop killer Christopher Monfort.

But in any case, he says that it would be especially absurd to refuse his new request. "Silent videos cannot possibly violate the privacy act since they contain no recorded oral communications," he says in his letter to police.

Doesn't matter, says the city's attorney's office. Spokesperson Kimberly Mills quotes the privacy act:

No sound or video recording made under this subsection (1)(c) may be duplicated and made available to the public by a law enforcement agency subject to this section until final disposition of any criminal or civil litigation which arises from the event or events which were recorded.

"The crucial word is 'or,' " Mills says. She's referring to the very first words of the passage: "sound or video recording."

That doesn't negate Egan's argument that the state's public disclosure law, as written, trumps the privacy act and any other seemingly conflicting act. Nor does it make SPD look any more transparent at a time, given the Department of Justice's scathing report, that it desperately needs to do so.

What it does mean is that Egan, if he wants those videos, is likely going to have to spend thousands of dollars to defend his position in court.

In the mean time, we'll have to settle for the videos that Egan has already gotten and shared with the public, like the one showing an officer joking about "skull-fucking" a young Hispanic man, and the one with a stopped driver who became so scared by officers' conduct that he called 911.

 
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