LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky newspaper has sued the state’s biggest city to get access to police records cited in a federal investigation.
The Courier Journal reported on Monday that it filed a lawsuit against Louisville Metro Government after the city’s police department failed to respond to a request for search warrant applications cited in a Justice Department report.
The Kentucky Open Records Act gives agencies five business days to respond to such requests, but the newspaper reports it submitted a request four months ago.
The city’s only response was a Sept. 6 message from the city’s top records official saying she was checking with the police department and did not know when the records would be available.
“LMPD’s refusal to comply with this request should be seen for what it is: a deliberate and willful attempt to shield its officers from unwanted public scrutiny by simply ignoring requests that would cast the Department in an unflattering light. But these warrant applications are the public’s records, and the public is entitled to see them,” attorneys representing The Courier Journal wrote in the lawsuit.
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said Monday that he has directed the city’s police department and records compliance “to take immediate steps to provide timely responses to these requests.”
“This is unacceptable and is not consistent with the commitment to transparency that I have made a priority for my administration,” he said in a statement.
The U.S. Justice Department announced last year that its investigation found Louisville police had engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discrimination against the Black community. Among the findings: police cherry-picked judges to review warrant applications instead of following the court’s rotating schedule, meaning just a few approved the majority of warrants.
“The finding of the DOJ report was that the warrant process was deeply flawed and led to abuses of constitutional rights, and the public has a right to know all of those who were involved in that pattern or practice,” said Michael Abate, a Louisville First Amendment lawyer representing The Courier Journal in the suit.
The investigation was prompted by the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.