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Law Prof: Sacramento County Sheriff Not Prohibited From Releasing Investigation Information


On Tuesday morning, about 30 people asked the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to pressure the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department to be more transparent.

There is a question of how much information the department must release.

Danielle Williams is an organizer with Sacramento Area Congregations together. She says the sheriff's department has withheld information from family members after officer-involved shootings.

"In a really, really difficult time through, which they're going through significant trauma -- that's the worst time not to receive information," says Williams. "Additionally, it creates distrust in the community. If you're not releasing the information, we will fill in the dots with what we think the truth is."

She cites the case of Adrienne Ludd, who was shot and killed by a deputy in October 2015.

A Sheriff's Department statement says it has provided some information to the public in that case, but is "prohibited from releasing the report-or any crime report or video- under government code section 6254 (f)(3).”

But McGeorge School of Law Professor Mike Vitiello says the department is choosing not to release information.

"The statute is filled with a kind of ability to withhold information but all sorts of examples for when you should share the information and examples of when the information should be withheld," says Vitiello.

Vitiello says the law protects some witness information and allows departments to withhold other details while an investigation is ongoing.

The Adrienne Ludd case is under review by the Sacramento County Inspector General, and former Sacramento Police Chief, Rick Braziel.

Braziel says the autopsy report in the case was just completed Monday afternoon.