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KATC among media organizations intervening in Pellerin case

Posted at 7:14 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 20:14:30-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — KATC, The Advocate and The Daily Advertiser have filed a motion to intervene in the court case involving a temporary restraining order that would block the release of records detailing the fatal shooting of Trayford Pellerin by the Lafayette Police Department.

The petition was filed Friday in the 15th Judicial District Court to dismiss the TRO and the accompanying lawsuit in opposition to both plaintiffs and defendants.

The TRO was filed Tuesday by the counsel for the individual officers involved in the incident and prohibits the release of information related to the shooting death of Pellerin and the identities of the officers involved.

Attorneys for the officers say in the TRO that any statements, documents, reports and/or audio or video footage captured of the shooting incident on Aug. 21 released to any entity not associated with the investigation underway by LPD and the Louisiana State Police would "impair the integrity of the ongoing investigations and anticipated civil litigation."

KATC and the other media organizations argue that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution offers a right to participate in and report on matters of interest to the public at large occurring on the public stage.

As courts and court records are open in Louisiana, the petition states, the right to report can only be overcome by specific allegations citing specific harm occurring to an individual, and not allegations that disclosure “might” deprive a current or potential criminal defendant of a right to a fair trial.

For this reason, KATC and the other media organizations argue that so-called “gag orders” violate the free speech rights of those involved and the right of the press to report on public proceedings.

KATC and the other media organizations allege that the TRO was granted improperly and is unconstitutional under federal and state law.

The attorneys representing the Pellerin family also filed a motion Friday to intervene against the TRO that would prevent the release of body cam footage and the identities of the officers involved.

KATC is being represented by Edward C. Abell, Jr. with the Onebane Law Firm in Lafayette and James B. Doyle of the Doyle Law Office in Lake Charles.

A hearing on the TRO and the motion to intervene over the body cam footage and the officers' identities is set for Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.

You can read the petition in full here.

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