A judge ruled Tuesday that internal records of police shootings and use of force in California are open to public scrutiny even if they involve cases that precede a new transparency law that went into effect this year, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Under the ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff, such records are unambiguously covered by the new law, Senate Bill 1421, according to The Times, which reported that the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing most Los Angeles Police Department officers, had sued to keep older records confidential.
The judge’s order goes into effect on March 1, which will allow time for an appeal and request for injunctive relief, The Times reported.
The new law covers records of officer-involved shooting investigations, confirmed cases of sexual assault and cases of officers lying, according to The Times.
“It’s a clear rejection of the core legal argument that the police unions have been relying on for weeks now,” David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition told The Times.
The coalition — as well as The Times and other media outlets — intervened in the case along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
“We are confident that as courts continue to confront the unions’ tortured legal arguments, they will come down on the side of transparency and accountability,” Snyder said.
A judge in Ventura County last week granted a preliminary injunction to a deputies union that had requested records from pre-2019 incidents be kept confidential, according to The Times, which reported that the matter could ultimately be decided the California Supreme Court.
Jacob Kalinski, an attorney representing the Los Angeles Police Protective League and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, which also sought to keep older records confidential, said statements and decisions made with the understanding that they would be kept confidential should not later be made public, but the judge disagreed, according to The Times.
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