Llera v. Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport
A municipal police department, which failed to offer any evidence to support claimed exemptions from mandatory disclosure, violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding and redacting requested records as the Freedom of Information Commission was unable to make any findings of fact to support the claims. Angel Lllera appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the City of Bridgeport Police Department and its chief violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide him with copies of records he requested pertaining to two criminal cases from 2006. The FOIC found that the requested records were public records within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-200(5), §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) and that the respondents maintained at least some of the records. The respondents came to the hearing preparing to deliver some records to the complainant. Following the hearing, the respondents intended to deliver those records to the correctional institution in which the complainant was housed. The respondents withheld some records in their entirety and redacted parts of others claiming exemptions under C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2), pertaining to privacy, and §1-210(b)(3), concerning the identity of informants and signed witness statements. However, the respondents presented no evidence to support their claims of exemptions. The FOIC was unable to make any findings of fact to support the claims. The respondents failed to prove that the records they withheld from the complainant and redactions made to records provided, were exempt from mandatory disclosure. Thus, the respondents violated the FOIA by withholding and redacting those records. The respondents also violated the promptness provisions of the FOIA by not promptly providing those records for which they claimed no exemption. The FOIC declined to consider the imposition of civil penalties. Based on the facts and circumstances and representations of respondents' counsel, the FOIC declined to make an order. The complainant was advised that he may make another request for the records and the FOIC will expedite any appeal from the respondents' compliance.