Investigation into Taser incident over – or is it?
July 26, 2006
Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson said Wednesday that his department has finished an investigation it launched after an officer shot a 63-year-old homeless woman with a Taser.He said the findings had been forwarded to City Manager Steve Barwick for review.The investigation followed an incident June 7 when officer Melinda Calvano disabled Carol Alexy with her Taser gun. Alexy allegedly was trying to steal a sweater from boxes behind The Thrift Shop on East Hopkins Avenue.After Ryerson said the investigation was finished, The Aspen Times sent Barwick and Ryerson a letter asking them to release the results of the investigation, as Colorado Open Records Act requires. The law requires governments and public agencies to release records to the public as a matter of course, except in specific instances.Upon receiving the request, Ryerson and Barwick both responded that the investigation was, in fact, still open. Barwick then said the results would be available to the public as soon as possible. “Should be out by Monday or Tuesday,” Barwick said. “There’s one more thing we want to do.”Ryerson previously said he has no intention of releasing the findings of the investigation into the incident. However, legal precedent from similar cases would suggest that the findings of this investigation are public record and should be available to the public once the investigation concludes. As long as an investigation is open, the public has no right to view records related to the investigation. Once the investigation has finished, however, the Colorado Open Records Act (one of the Sunshine laws) makes it clear that the city manager and police department must release the documents upon request, according to Steve Zansberg, an attorney who represents several newspapers around the state.Until this point, Ryerson has refrained from releasing information about the incident has been made public on the grounds it was part of an ongoing investigation. Answers to questions such as why Calvano used a Taser on Alexy remain unclear. An outside party performed the investigation, though the police department has not named who conducted it. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org