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Judge Seeks To Hear 911 Calls From 12/14 Before Ruling

NEW BRITAIN – A Connecticut judge said November 8 that he wants to hear the 911 recordings from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting before ruling whether they can remain secret as a state prosecutor and the town of Newtown fight an order to release them.

The state's Freedom of Information Commission ruled in September that the recordings should be provided to The Associated Press, but a prosecutor asked for a stay while he appeals that order.

New Britain Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott said he wants to listen to the calls before deciding on the request for a stay. He set a November 25 hearing on whether the recordings can be sealed so he can access and hear them.

The AP has sought the recordings in part to examine the police response to the December 14 massacre of 20 children and six educators inside the school. If the 911 recordings are released, the AP would review the content and determine what, if any, of it would meet the news cooperative's standards for publication.

At the two-hour hearing, the prosecutor leading the Newtown investigation, State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, urged the judge to consider the anguish that releasing the tapes could cause for victims' families. He said the judge should consider effects on others including people who might hesitate to dial 911 out of fear their voice would end up on a newscast.

“The public is not represented by Jack Gillum and The Associated Press,” Sedensky said, referring to the AP reporter who filed the initial public records request.

Victor Perpetua, attorney for the FOI commission who argued with the AP against a stay, countered that it's important to release the recordings because the public has a right to know how police acted in a moment of crisis.

“At a certain point, people ask what is there to hide,” Perpetua said. “The longer it is delayed, the more questions are raised.”

Recordings of 911 calls are routinely released, but the Newtown police department and Sedensky sought to keep the Sandy Hook calls secret, arguing they could jeopardize the investigation. After the AP took its challenge to the FOI commission, Sedensky argued that releasing them could violate survivors who deserve special protection as victims of child abuse. At Friday's hearing, he said releasing the identities of 911 callers could also subject them to unwanted attention from people including reporters.

“If they had wanted to talk to the media, they would have called them,” Sedensky said.

William Fish, an attorney representing the AP, argued that the child abuse exemption claimed by Sedensky is so broad that if it's permitted, it could lead to the withholding of records in many other cases including the report that Sedensky is due to file himself this fall on the Newtown investigation.

The gunman who carried out the massacre was 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who killed his mother earlier in the day and committed suicide as police arrived at the school.

Some people who lost loved ones in the shooting have said they do not want to see the tapes released. An attorney for Newtown, Nathan Zezula, said that after the FOI commission's ruling in September the town's police department received alarmed phone calls including some from people who dialed 911 on the day of the massacre.

Investigators have not revealed a possible motive for the shooting.

More stories like this: 12/14, Sedensky, FOI, 911 calls, Associated Press

Comments

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

My brother was removed from my house during a psychotic episode. The police wouldn't release their report in order to extend his 72-hour hold. However, the entire incident was recounted by a responding policeman, who also wrote for the local paper. It's not fair.

There is no need to hide evidence Adam Lanza entered the school and shot 26 people. The way it looks, the response was late and inadequate, there is evidence of multiple shooters, and there appears to be a cover up to bury these facts along with obliterating the scene of the crime.

What the nation needs is transparency in this so called investigation, not cloaks and daggers.

And that second reason IS a

And that second reason IS a good reason to keep the 911 calls sealed; but Sednesky must admit if this is indeed the case.

FOIC already reviewed calls; said they are not graphic

FOIC already listened to these seven, landline calls and said they are not graphic. They do not depict the physical condition of any homicide victim.

FOIC seemed taken aback both at the small number of calls, and their timing. Likely these seven calls are quite late, and will reveal that much earlier calls were made from the school but not dispatched to, because they were cellphone calls, and went to CSP's notoriously broken 911 call system. That is why these calls are important. Judging by the panicked reaction of those who made the calls--none of whom are the children's parents--there is also some possibility, as Sednesky has said many times, that witnesses will be put in danger by revealing which staff members saw a potential second gunman or accomplice.

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