ACLU battles CCSD in court over Durango HS police body cam video

ACLU battles CCSD in court over Durango HS police body cam video
Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 8:27 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) -The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada faced off with the Clark County School District in court on Tuesday over access to CCSD police body camera video, incident reports and other records regarding a February incident near Durango High School.

Cell phone video from the incident shows a CCSD police officer throwing a student to the ground while other students end up in handcuffs. The ACLU and FOX5 have been trying to get access to the body camera video for months.

CCSD has only said school district officers were looking into reports of weapons near campus, but has never explained why officers approached the Durango High students, and why force was used on one of them. One student told FOX5 that an officer placed him in handcuffs because he wanted to record the interaction on his cell phone.

The ACLU says CCSD has been “stonewalling” in not providing the information, including any details about the officer who took the student to the ground.

“We don’t know what recourse was given,” said Athar Haseebullah of the ACLU of Nevada. “All we know is that officer was still employed. This officer could still be around students. This officer continues to pose a danger to students and particularly, I would argue, students of color.”

In court Tuesday, CCSD argued some information is confidential, including information on one student who was cited that day. CCSD says the details are part of juvenile justice information. In court, there were questions about whether that confidential information could be redacted, specifically from the officer’s body camera video, while still providing public information on the other students involved.

“It is so inextricably commingled that the district would not be able to sufficiently redact,” said CCSD attorney Jackie Nichols.

CCSD also argued the ACLU’s public records request is too burdensome to fulfill. Nichols discussed more than 10,000 emails as part of the records request.

“If you estimate four pages per email, you’re talking about 40,000 pages of documents. There is no way a government agency can devote its single public records person into doing a review. And as demonstrated by the declaration it would take at least 160 days, business days, to conduct that review,” said Nichols.

“The government doesn’t get to say our hands are washed of our obligation because we have not properly staffed our departments. That is not a defense,” said ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Christopher Peterson.

CCSD also said emails may include issues of attorney-client privilege, and therefore could not be made public.

Judge Danielle Chio did not rule Tuesday. She wants to see the police body camera video and other information before deciding on the issue.

The ACLU says it expects to get the body camera video and other records as part of the current hearing. But it says if it doesn’t, it will get them if it files a civil lawsuit on behalf of the two Durango High students it represents.