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Is Metro Govt hiding something?

Why is Louisville Metro government withholding some videos, and refusing to answer questions?

2 min read
Photo by Muhammad Zaqy Al Fattah / Unsplash

In deference to “the legal process,” and at the request of the Jefferson County Attorney, Louisville Metro has elected to withhold at least some records related to the arrest of a golfer by Louisville Metro Police at Valhalla Golf Course during last week’s PGA tournament.

Mayor Craig Greenberg and Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel declined to answer any questions concerning the incident, again citing the Jefferson County Attorney’s request to allow the legal process to runs its course. The chief stated that the investigative findings, the signed “failure to activate body cam” form, the governing body cam  policy, and two videos — a fixed pole-mounted camera across the street from the incident, and dash-cam video — would be posted on the LMPD website immediately following Thursday’s press conference.

This begs the questions: What is being withheld, and can Metro/the Jefferson County Attorney meet the burden assigned to them by statute of proving that disclosure at this time would cause “a concrete risk of harm” to the investigation and prosecution of the charges against PGA golfer Scott Scheffler?

Apparently, additional video that captured some or all of the incident is being withheld – perhaps other unidentified public records.

Can they meet the standard?

The standard for invoking the ongoing law enforcement exemption (KRS 61.878(1)(h)) is a high one.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has emphasized:

“The law enforcement exemption is appropriately invoked only when the agency can articulate a factual basis for applying it – only, that is, when, because of the record’s content, its release poses a concrete risk of harm to the agency in the prospective action. A concrete risk, by definition, must be something more than a hypothetical or speculative concern.”

What “concrete risk of harm” can the Jefferson County Attorney articulate that justifies nondisclosure of some, but not all, video? What other records, if any, has the county attorney asked Metro to withhold on this basis, and what is the concrete risk of harm from their premature disclosure?

No doubt there are pending open records requests relating to the arrest. Louisville Metro officials cannot as easily evade these requests as they evaded reporters’ questions at Thursday’s press conference. The open records law will not permit it.

The day of legal reckoning is upon them.

They must either articulate a concrete risk of harm — not speculative harm such as “taint the jury pool” or “influence witness memory” — or they must disclose all responsive records. Delay, in cases like these, only serves to reinforce conflicting public opinions, divide the community, and lend credence to the suspicion that they are “hiding something.”


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Amye Bensenhaver

Amye is a retired assistant AG who specialized in open records laws. She is the co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. (Read the rest of her bio on the Contributors page.)