JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Action News Jax routinely submits public records request from local agencies.
The requests can take hours, weeks, or, in some cases, they’re denied.
Under Florida Statute 119, providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.
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Attorney John Phillips is raising concerns about JSO’s public records department.
It comes after he submitted several requests on behalf of a client, but he said they were ignored.
“Our public records officials need to be more accountable,” Phillips said.
He said his client, Hunter Shutt, was arrested April 16 for driving with a suspended license.
According to the attorney, Shutt was confronted by an inmate over use of a jail telephone.
The attack left him with a concussion, facial fractures and jaw displacement. He ultimately had to have his jaw wired shut.
After his release April 17, Shutt went to Baptist Hospital where he was admitted and kept for days.
On April 25, the attorney’s office began submitting public records requests to JSO.
Phillips said on May 23, nearly a month later after the initial request, he received a call from a man with JSO’s records department.
He claims he was told the video responsive to his request had been deleted because JSO didn’t “get to it” within 30 days.
“This video would’ve answered so many questions. The failure to preserve it within 30 days and it just happened to get recorded over, only begs more questions,” Phillips said.
Phillips said his office feels there’s been a spoliation, or destruction, of evidence.
“It’s upsetting and it sets a terrible precedent,” Phillips said. “As we approach the body camera era in Jacksonville that they can just say, ‘Oops we didn’t get to it because were too busy.’”
In an email from the General Counsel’s Office, the city says JSO has no duty under Florida law to preserve records in response to a request unless the agency agrees to do so.
Action News Jax reached out to JSO to request its compliance, rules, and procedures pertaining to retention and disposal of all requested public records
We’re still waiting on a response.
Phillips said he plans to file a lawsuit against JSO and the city of Jacksonville
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