EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (CN) – A former St. Louis police officer who is facing a felony trial for a shooting has requested records from Facebook, but the social network site isn’t giving them up without a fight. The officer claims that online friendships between investigators and bar patrons create concerns about the impartiality of the investigation.
Albert Watkins, attorney for former police Officer Bryan Pour, says there are friendships between investigating officers and patrons at Mac N Mick’s Sports Bar & Grill in Pontoon Beach, where the Nov. 9, 2008 shooting occurred.
“We believe law enforcement had pre-existing and subsequent relationships with material witnesses,” Watkins told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Our position is that someone charged with a crime has a right to subpoena exculpatory evidence.”
But Facebook is fighting the subpoena.
Facebook attorneys argued in court documents that the site is prohibited by federal law from disclosing the information. Even if the site complied, the “defendant’s requests are hopelessly overbroad and vague, and compliance would impose an undue burden on Facebook’s resources,” court papers state.
A hearing on the subpoena is expected in Madison County Court in February.
Pour is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm. Police say he got drunk, got into a fight with Jeffrey Bladdick and shot him in the chest with a department-issued Beretta pistol.
Another off-duty St. Louis police officer, Christopher Hantak, was shot and wounded by a Pontoon Beach police officer who was called to the scene.
Pour and Hantak were fired.
The grand jury that indicted Pour found Hantak’s shooting justified.
Watkins wants profiles of 23 Facebook users dating back to the day before the shooting. He claims that Pour acted in self-defense after he was attacked by two people in Mac N Mick’s parking lot. Watkins claims Pour pulled the gun from his waistband during the attack and fired, and mistakenly hit Bladdick.
Pontoon Beach is 15 miles northeast of St. Louis.