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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. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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