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UPDATE: City also opposes TRO in shooting case

Lafayette Parish Courthouse
Posted at 7:31 PM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 20:31:10-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — The City of Lafayette is asking the court to end a restraining order on the body-cam video in the Trayford Pellerin case, saying that it's not public record but the city wants to show the video to Pellerin's family.

Last week, Pellerin's family and a group of three media organizations, including KATC, also filed motions to intervene in the case, also asking that the restraining order be ended.

In an opposition filed today, the City of Lafayette asks the court to end the TRO granted last week that forbids the release of any information, including video from officers' body cams, from release.

The City argues that none of the information is subject to public records laws, because the shooting is still under investigation. The City can't be compelled to release the information, but the City can choose to do so, and the City does choose to do so, the filing states.

It also states that, because the officers' identities won't be released, the officers have no legitimate basis to request the TRO.

The Pellerin family wants to see the video, and City officials want them to see it. The officers' identities will be protected and there will be no danger to them, the city argues.

Last week, KATC, The Advocate and The Daily Advertiser filed a motion to intervene in the court case.

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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