Names of Officers Involved in Officer-Involved Shooting Must be Disclosed Absent Showing of Interests Served by Nondisclosure
On February 7, 2012, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District upheld a trial court’s decision that release of officers’ names involved in an officer-involved shooting did not amount to an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Los Angeles Times Communications, LLC ("the Times") submitted a request to the City of Long Beach under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) seeking the names of police officers involved in a 2010 officer-involved shooting in Long Beach, and the names of all officers involved in shootings in Long Beach for the preceding five years. The Long Beach Police Officers Association (LBPOA) brought an action against the City of Long Beach, the Long Beach Police Department and the Chief of Police seeking to enjoin disclosure of the names. In support of its request, LBPOA averred that a shooting review which takes place after an officer-involved shooting can lead to findings resulting in an internal affairs investigation. LBPOA also expressed safety concerns about releasing the names of shooting officers. The Times moved to intervene and filed an opposition.
The Appellate Court agreed with the trial court’s decision-that (1) the information requested by the Times did not fall within any CPRA exemption; (2) that the officers’ names were not exempt under Government Code Section 6254(k) via Penal Code Section 832.7 and 832.8 because the officers’ names are not personnel records; (3) the disclosure of names did not constitute "an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" under Section 6254(c); and (4) the public interest in nondisclosure did not outweigh the public interest served by disclosure of the names. (Gov’t Code §6255(a).)
For the full decision, see Long Beach Police Officers Association v. City of Long Beach, et al. (California Superior Court Case No. B231245).