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College newspaper sues Purdue for release of video

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A college newspaper sued Purdue University on Tuesday over its refusal to release surveillance video that editors said shows a staff photographer being roughed up by police when he entered the building where a student had been fatally shot and stabbed.

The Purdue Exponent and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana say the university erroneously labeled the video recordings as evidence of the crime scene and failed to release those recordings as required by Indiana's public records access laws.

The complaint was filed in Tippecanoe Superior Court.

ACLU attorney Kelly Eskew said Purdue's refusal to release the video "stands in the way" of free press rights.

"I think the public has a right to view the video and make its own conclusions about what transpired," she said.

The incident occurred Jan. 21, after Cody Cousins, 23, entered a basement classroom filled with electrical engineering students and allegedly stabbed and shot 21-year-old Andrew Boldt. Cousins is charged with murder, and his public defender, Lafayette attorney Kirk Freeman, has filed notice that he intends to pursue an insanity defense.

According to the complaint, the photographer entered the building from a second-floor skywalk that was not sealed off by police. He quickly encountered police officers and identified himself as an Exponent photographer, then raised both hands, each containing a camera, and got down on his knees. The complaint contends he was pushed to the ground, then pulled to his feet, shoved against a wall and detained for several hours. His cameras, which were damaged in the process, were confiscated but eventually returned.

Eskew said the prosecutor advised police not to review the contents of the cameras and there was no evidence they had been tampered with.

The complaint said police allowed the photographer and other Exponent staff to view the video but have refused to release it.

Purdue denied the Exponent's request for the video in February, saying that releasing it could affect the murder investigation. The newspaper sought an advisory opinion from Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt, who sided with Purdue but scolded the university for taking such a wide view of what constitutes investigatory records.

"An agency cannot claim an investigatory record and not truly be part of the investigation," Britt wrote. "While the university is correct it is a broad category and relatively straightforward, it is not a catch-all for any and all material which could possibly have a remote association with an investigation."

Eskew said the Exponent and the ACLU disagree with Britt's opinion and are seeking legal review.

"In this case, Purdue has refused to release the video surveillance on the grounds that it has some nexus to the events in the basement of the building," Eskew said. "We disagree. The video we're requesting only pertains to the incident involving the Exponent's photojournalist."

Purdue said in a statement Tuesday that it has followed the requirements of the public records law.

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  1. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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