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Student Paper Sues Purdue For Surveillance Video Following Murder

Purdue University is illegally withholding surveillance video showing police attacking a photographer for the independent student paper, the Exponent, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Indiana against the school on behalf of the paper.

The incident happened soon after the Jan. 21 murder of a student in the basement of a campus building, when the Exponent photographer alleged he was “pushed to the ground and shoved into a wall by campus police” when he entered the open building’s second floor and identified himself as press, the ACLU said in a press release. His equipment was damaged and confiscated for several hours.

Though Purdue allowed the newspaper to view the video recordings, it has refused “several” requests by the paper under the state public records law for release of the recordings themselves, the ACLU said.

“Purdue’s arbitrary refusal to release the requested video,” despite Indiana’s “sunshine laws” on public officials’ actions, “stands in the way of those free press rights,” the group said.

Both the paper and the photographer previously filed complaints against campus police for “harassment, unwarranted detention and illegal seizing of a journalist files,” citing the federal Privacy Protection Act, the Exponent reported.

The school says it’s already been vindicated by the state’s public access counselor, who told the paper April 4:

In this case, the materials you describe are all records relating to the arrest and investigation of the January 21, 2014 shooting. As this incident is clearly a crime, the release of all materials compiled which are associated with the subsequent investigation is at the discretion of the University. The public policy considerations are clear – the exception protects in the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

The case was filed in Tippecanoe Superior Court. Purdue’s president is former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

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IMAGE: Jim Hammer/Flickr

About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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