03 January 2010

city of alexandria, la. wont release crime scene video

on tuesday 22 december and wednesday 23 december 2009, gannett/the town talk published news reports "teen accused of breaking mentally ill patient's arm," (two page .pdf 21 kb) about the arrest of 18 year old pineville, la., resident ben bayone who was employed at westside rehabilitation center 3027 north bolton avenue, alexandria, la. and was charged with cruelty to the infirm, for allegedly breaking the arm of a westside patient due to excessive force in a monday, 21 december 2009 incident.

gannett reported that "employees of westside told police that that department policy advises them to use certain restraint moves to control mentally ill patients but bayone had violated their policy and used excessive force, breaking the patient’s arm." staff at the center told police the patients arm was “badly broken.”

further gannett reported:

Police said they have video of the incident that shows Bayone pushing the resident down on top of a table with his arm twisted on his back. The report says the video then shows Bayone putting his weight on the man’s arm, breaking it.

Police collected the video as evidence and then contacted Bayone, who was arrested and transported to the Rapides Parish Jail.
on wednesday 23 december 2009 a public records request was filed via fax and postal mail to the city requesting a copy of the video.

however, in a letter dated 29 december 2009 and received by the public records requester on 02 january 2010 alexandria city attorney and R.S.44:1A(3) public records custodian, charles e. johnson, jr., denied the request citing La. R.S. 44:3.

the requester tells wst... that "although i disagree with mr. johnson's contention that the video is not subject to public disclosure, i respect his decision. what i will do is file a new public records request about every ninety days until the video is no longer allegedly not subject to disclosure -- also i want to add that i was pleased with and appreciative of the speed with which the city answered considering the request was made on the eve of the two major back-to-back holiday weeks."

UPDATED to view the public records request, the city's response and the requesters response click here to download seven page .pdf [3 mb] also changed the gannett/the town talk news story to reflect the url cited to the city attorney.