The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office blew off New Times when we first requested the videos and other documents associated with the death of jail inmate Juan Mendoza Farias.
So, New Times sued under Arizona's public records law. The officials stalled, apparently because they felt the material might be too harmful too release before voters made their choice in November between Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his political opponent, Dan Saban.
Lo and behold, the sheriff's office eventually complied with the law and produced reams of documents and video. But the sheriff's office still didn't release all of the videos it had. Most importantly, a video of Farias' final moments seems to be missing.
Finally, on November 24, the sheriff's office gave New Times a third CD of video from the time of the beating. We suspect more video may exist, but one of Arpaio's top aides, Jack MacIntyre, signed an affidavit with the Maricopa County Superior Court in which he claims the office simply has no more to give.
You can read the affidavit here, along with the court ruling by Superior Court Paul McMurdie that requests it.
McMurdie apparently agreed with the sheriff's office that providing New Times with the locations of the jail's surveillance cameras may compromise jail security, but we think it's the only way to know for sure if any more video may exist. Obviously, given the games being played by the sheriff's office and the way more video keeps being found, it's hard to believe MacIntyre's under-oath statement.
Even if all the video really has been released, the sheriff's office should have -- and could have -- complied fully with New Times legal request for the public records before the newspaper was forced to sue.
Because of that, New Times will consider petitioning the court to make the sheriff's office pay our legal fees in this case. -- Ray Stern
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