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05 December 2023

Las Vegas police must release mass shooting records

Photo: AP


A judge in Las Vegas has ordered police to make public 911 calls, police officer body camera video and several other records that authorities sought to keep secret until they finish their investigation into last year’s mass shooting.

Nevada state court Judge Richard Scotti on Wednesday ruled the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department must begin releasing records to media organizations that requested them starting hours after the Oct. 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. The department was ordered to redact all identifiable information, including names, Social Security numbers and portions of videos in which people could be easily recognized.

“If the government contended that the requested records were confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure, then the government had a duty to redact confidential information and produce the non-confidential portions of the records,” Scotti said. “Wholesale withholding of documents with a general claim of confidentiality suggests to this court that records have not been sufficiently scrutinized.”

High-stakes gambler Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more after he shattered the windows of his hotel suite and unleashed gunfire on a music festival below. He then killed himself.

Police and the FBI have said they believe Paddock acted alone but have not determined his motive.

Media outlets including The Associated Press have sought to obtain police records including dash-cam footage, closed-circuit television video, evidence logs, dispatch information, interview reports and police purchase orders and no-bid contracts related to the investigation.

The department did not respond to some requests and responded to others later than the five-day period in which they are supposed to respond. In the responses it provided, the department argued it couldn’t release the information because of its ongoing investigation, which attorney Nicholas Crosby on Tuesday said is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In recent weeks, federal and state judges have ordered the release of other records related to the shooting, including search warrant records and autopsy reports. A court error last week publicly revealed the name of a man identified as a person of interest after the shooting. Douglas Haig’s name was not redacted on one of hundreds of pages released to a news organization.

Haig, a 55-year-old aerospace engineer who sold ammunition as a hobby for about 25 years, was charged days later with manufacturing armor-piercing ammunition.

Haig’s lawyer, Marc Victor, declined to comment Wednesday about the charge against his client.

Crosby in court said the records to be released involve thousands of pages and several hours of footage.

Scotti gave attorneys one week to submit arguments on how much the department should charge media outlets for the records but warned against “effectively impeding public access to records by charging an exorbitant fee.”