Stephen Paddock’s autopsy report could be released - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Stephen Paddock’s autopsy report could be released

LAS VEGAS: Clark County Nevada District Court Judge Jim Crockett ruled on Sept. 28 that the coroner’s office cannot keep death records secret, because nothing in Nevada law exempts autopsies from public review.

That decision came about prior to the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre that left 58 people dead and over 500 injured after Stephen Paddock reportedly opened fire on a music festival from his suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

We still do not know the manner and cause of Paddock’s death. That has not been released by the coroner’s office and neither has the estimated time of death.

Release the records

The Las Vegas Review-Journal had filed a lawsuit in July after the Clark County Coroner’s Office refused to release coroner’s reports in other deaths.

The coroner considers the coroner autopsy report, coroner medical examination report, toxicology report and the coroner investigation report, to be confidential and not for public record.

Attorneys for the LVRJ argued that Nevada’s Public Records Act requires that the government must release the documents.

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office who represented the coroner argued that the records could be withheld and or redacted by officials based on a 1982 attorney general’s decision.

After the judge’s ruling, Keith Moyer, the editor in chief of the LVRJ said, “Thursday’s ruling makes it clear again that government records are presumed to be open and cannot be hidden from scrutiny because bureaucrats want the public kept in the dark. Governments must follow the law. The Review-Journal will aggressively litigate baseless refusals to release public records. And, as we did Thursday, we’ll win.”

Crockett said the attorney general’s opinion does not overrule laws that say all records are public unless there is a specific exemption.

Clark County will appeal

On Tuesday the Clark County Commission voted to appeal  Crocket’s decision. Clark County Coroner, John Fudenberg requested the appeal.

The LVRJ managing editor Glenn Cook said, “Autopsy reports are public records across the country to ensure accountability in investigations.”

Local and national media file petitions

On Nov. 2 petitions for release of records pertaining to Stephen Paddock and the October 1 massacre were filed in US District Court, District of Nevada and Clark County District Court by attorneys representing the Las Vegas-Review Journal, ABC, CNN, KSNV-TV Las Vegas, The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Associated Press.

The US District Court petition is to unseal all the federal affidavit for search warrant applications and associated judicial records. An affidavit for search warrant contains the probable cause necessary for a federal judge to issue any search warrant.

A Clark County District Court petition requested the unsealing of 14 affidavit for search warrants and transcripts of oral statements of probable cause.

A second CCDC petition requests the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department allow the inspection of all recordings made by police-worn body cameras on the night of October 1, 2017, recordings of 911 calls received relating to the shooting incident at the Mandalay Bay, police dispatch calls, evidence logs, hotel surveillance video, interview reports and anything else relating to the shooting investigation.

Never forget those killed and injured in the worst mass shooting in US history that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1, 2017. It should never have happened.

About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.