A Eureka police video depicting the arrest of a 14-year-old suspect can’t be considered a confidential personnel record and must be released to the public, an appellate court has ruled.
The court’s unanimous decision upholds a May 21, 2015 ruling by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson, who granted a Journal
petition seeking release of the video, finding the public’s interest in seeing the video outweighed any privacy concerns.
The city of Eureka, which objected to the video’s release, along with Humboldt County counsel, appealed Wilson’s ruling, arguing that he erred by not affording the video the protections granted to police officer personnel records. Because the Dec. 6, 2012 arrest led to a citizen complaint and was used as a part of an internal affairs investigation into one of the arresting officer’s conduct, the city argued the video was a part of the officer’s personnel file and should consequently be barred from release.
But in its 12-page ruling authored by Presiding Justice Barbara Jones, the court dismissed that argument, finding the video was not generated as a part of an internal affairs investigation or a record relating specifically to an officer’s advancement, appraisal or discipline.