CHICAGO — The city of Chicago has asked a judge to overturn an Illinois attorney general’s binding opinion that police officers’ personal emails concerning a white officer’s fatal shooting of a black teenager are public record.
The city filed the complaint Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, arguing that officers’ personal emails aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Chicago Sun-Times reported (http://bit.ly/2cDVLsj ).
The Illinois attorney general’s public access counselor ruled last month that the Chicago Police Department violated public records laws when it denied the emails requested by CNN. The emails include messages from officer Jason Van Dyke, who has pleaded not guilty to murder in Laquan McDonald’s October 2014 death. He shot the teen 16 times.
The counselor’s opinion has the force of law, requiring the police to search officers’ private accounts and turn over relevant emails.
A CNN producer made a FOIA request for emails a dozen officers exchanged in October and November of 2014 about the shooting. In response, the police department supplied more than 700 pages of records but denied part of CNN’s request. CNN asked the Illinois attorney general to review the case. Chicago police told the attorney general’s office that it didn’t search officers’ personal emails.
Attorney general spokeswoman Maura Possley said the office plans “to defend the public access counselor’s opinion in the administrative review.”