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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ind. Courts - More on: Purdue Exponent sues Purdue for access to surveillance video"

Updating this ILB post from Tuesday, Dave Bangert of the Lafayette Journal Courier has a column today headed "Own up, Purdue, on photog's detention." You'll have to read the whole column, but here are some quotes:

On the surface of its case filed Tuesday in Tippecanoe Superior Court 2, the Purdue Exponent is pressing a fundamental First Amendment question about what is and what isn't a public record.

But you don't have to scratch too deeply to see what the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana-backed lawsuit against Purdue University is really looking to find: Credibility.

In February, a Purdue-led inquiry cleared police officers who detained a photographer from the independent student newspaper in the aftermath of a Jan. 21 fatal shooting on campus. At the time, Exponent Publisher Pat Kuhnle expressed an abiding confidence that his publication and his students were typically treated as second-class citizens by campus police. This was just a high-profile moment.

"I'm sick of it," Kuhnle said then.

At that point, it was the word of police officers still dealing with the heat of a murder in the Electrical Engineering Building versus the story of Michael Takeda, an Exponent photographer who ventured a few floors above the crime scene. The Purdue investigation claimed Takeda's account wasn't quite accurate, that he didn't fully cooperate, and that officers who confronted him and hauled him to the police station "operated in a professional manner with the knowledge that a horrible crime had been committed."

Kuhnle stuck by Takeda, even after being told by Luke Britt, Indiana's public access counselor, in April that Purdue had some grounds to claim that the video of the encounter was part of the murder investigation.

It took until July for Kuhnle, Takeda and lawyers from both sides to get a supervised view of surveillance camera video from near the skywalk leading to the Electrical Engineering Building.

What Kuhnle said he saw was a photographer taken down by a police officer. What he said he saw was his photographer being helped up before being barked at by another officer and pushed into a wall by a third officer as he was being taken away, on his way to being held for several hours even after identifying himself — even after the shooter was in custody.

What Kuhnle saw was vindication.

But you'll have to take his word for it.

The video is back under wraps. On Tuesday, Purdue spokeswoman Liz Evans said Purdue was taking the word of the Indiana public access counselor's nonbinding opinion. There's probably good reason Purdue doesn't want that footage, far from the actual crime scene, out there.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 13, 2014 10:31 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts