McKinney, Texas Tears Up|Its $79,000 FOIA Bill

McKINNEY, Texas (CN) – McKinney, Texas officials apologized for charging $79,000 to fulfill a media request for records concerning the white police officer who pulled a gun on black teenagers, and was filmed doing it.
     McKinney spokeswoman Anna Clark apologized to Gawker Media on Wednesday, which filed a Public Information Act request for former police Cpl. Eric Casebolt’s records and email messages on his past conduct.
     “The number quoted to you as a cost estimate for your records request is not accurate,” Clark wrote. “We sincerely apologize for the misinformation and the ensuing confusion, and we agree that the cost of more than $79,000 is at best implausible.”
     Attorney Lisa Mares, with Brown Hofmeister in Richardson, had responded to Gawker’s request by saying the city would need to hire a programmer to spend 2,231 hours searching email at $28.50 per hour. Gawker called the bill ridiculous.
     “Given the stratospheric total number – and the fact that nearly every email client on the planet has some sort of search function – it’s hard to read the letter as anything other than a deliberate attempt to conceal information. We’ll be filing an appeal,” Gawker said Monday.
     Clark said the cost estimate was a “mistake” and “should never have been communicated to you.”
     “Please know we are working diligently to come to a reasonable and accurate estimate based on your request,” she wrote. “While many requests regarding this incident, including yours, are voluminous, in no way would the city presume to charge such an exorbitant fee.”
     She said the city will send Gawker a revised estimate.
     An affluent suburb north of Dallas, McKinney was thrust into the national race debate after a 7-minute video was uploaded to YouTube on June 6. It shows Casebolt and 11 other officers responding to calls of fights and uninvited guests at a privately owned community swimming pool at the Craig Ranch master planned community.
     Casebolt is shown screaming profanity at black male teenagers, telling them to get on the ground, and yelling at teenage girls to leave.
     Casebolt wrestles 15-year-old Dajerria Becton of McKinney to the ground. Several teenagers cry and scream while surrounding Casebolt, who unholsters his service weapon and appears to point it at the two black male teenagers closest to him, who run away. Casebolt then reholsters his gun and pins the screaming girl to the ground with his knees. She can be heard repeatedly asking for her mother.
     Casebolt resigned on June 9. He apologized for his actions, which ended investigations by the police department and city manager. He blamed the stress of responding to two suicide calls earlier that day – not racism – for his response.
     At least six of the teenagers have filed administrative complaints with the city, claiming Casebolt used excessive force.

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