Published September 26, 2013
The state of Connecticut's freedom of information panel ruled Wednesday that police must release 911 calls made from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown during the mass shooting that occurred there last December.
The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission unanimously ruled that the town police had violated state law when they refused a request for a copy of the tape by the Associated Press. Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III had ordered Newtown police not to make the tapes public, arguing that they were part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
After the ruling came down, Sedensky told The Hartford Courant that he would appeal the ruling to the state Superior Court.
However, the commission ruled that the fact of the investigation was not enough to restrict the tapes, according to state law. Instead, the commission ruled that the state had to prove that the tapes would be used used in a prospective law-enforcement action that would be damaged by their release.
Commission Chair Owen Eagan noted that neither Sedensky nor Newtown police officers listened to the recorded calls before they were ordered sealed. Sedensky argued that he did not need to hear the tapes to conclude that their release would prejudice the investigation, saying that the tapes contained statements from shooting witnesses and added that the private citizens who made the calls should be protected from "[becoming] fodder for the evening news."
26 people, including 20 children were killed by Adam Lanza at the school on the morning of December 14 before Lanza killed himself. Earlier in the day, Lanza had shot and killed his mother, Nancy, at their Newtown home. The Associated Press had requested the 911 tapes and records related to police activity at the Lanza home on the day of the shooting.