Dad Seeks Info on Shooting in Police Car

HOUSTON (CN) – A Houston high school student shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police car and his father sued for information, “including police reports and records,” which he claims Harris County officials refuse to produce.
     The Texas Civil Rights Project sued Harris County on behalf of the father, who is not identified in the complaint in Harris County Court.
     “On December 5, 2012, Harris County Constable Precinct 3 deputies were called to North Shore High School in Houston, Texas on reports that a student there might hurt himself,” the complaint states.
     “They were able to locate the boy, handcuff and detain him, and place him in a Precinct 3 vehicle at or near the high school. Despite being in their custody the boy was able to obtain and discharge a firearm, critically injuring himself.”
     Precinct 3 Capt. Jon Moore said police did not conduct a full search on the 17-year-old boy because he had not been arrested, only detained so authorities could get him help, according to Houston’s ABC affiliate KTRK-TV.
     Though Moore cited an internal affairs investigation, Harris County officials refused to give the boy’s father information about the incident, so he asked the Texas Civil Rights Project for help, according to the complaint.
     “After meeting with the father at TCRP’s Houston office, Director Amin Alehashem served a written TPIA [Texas Public Information Act] request, dated January 9, 2013, on Harris County Constable Precinct 3’s office,” the complaint states.
     “TCRP specifically requested copies of public information related to what happened to the boy at North Shore High School, including all incident and investigative reports, the 911 recording, dispatch tapes, and calls to the police regarding the boy and the incident that occurred that day.”
     Fifty days later, the TCRP followed up with the constable’s office, which confirmed it had received the request and said it had been forwarded to the Harris County Attorney’s Office.
     “On March 5, 2013, TCRP received a letter from the Office of Vince Ryan, Harris County Attorney. That letter stated, ‘[t]he Office of Harris County Attorney does not have any documents responsive to your request,'” the complaint states.
     “The letter does not state, however, whether the Constable’s office – the addressee and recipient of TCRP’s January Public Information Act request – has any responsive information to the request.” (Citations to exhibits omitted.)
     The Texas Civil Rights Project claims Harris County is violating the Texas Public Information Act.
     The law requires a governmental body wishing to withhold info to ask the state attorney general for a decision within 10 business days, “and state which exceptions apply.”
     “Harris County did not make any such request,” the complaint states.
     The nonprofit wants a writ of mandamus ordering Harris County to produce “the public information it has requested, including all incident and investigative reports, the 911 recording, dispatch tapes, and all recordings of calls to the police regarding the boy and the injuries he suffered at North High School on December 5, 2012.”

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