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Court asked to determine status of Columbine videotapes

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         COLORADO         Freedom of Information         Feb 3, 2000    

Court asked to determine status of Columbine videotapes

  • Videotapes of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris have prompted a local sheriff to ask a federal court to tell him whether he is obligated to release copies of the tapes to the public.

A flood of requests for copies of videotapes concerning last year’s massacre at Columbine High School has prompted a county sheriff to seek a judicial determination on whether he is obligated to release the tapes to the public.

Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone has filed a complaint in federal District Court in Denver to establish his legal obligations concerning the videotapes made by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris before their suicidal rampage last April and the surveillance videotapes made inside the school building. The county school board, which does not want the tapes released, is a defendant in the suit, along with the parents of Klebold and Harris.

Before turning their guns on themselves, Harris and Klebold shot and killed a teacher and 12 students while injuring almost two dozen others.

The complaint, filed Jan. 25, seeks to determine whether the videotapes are subject to the state’s open records law or federal copyright laws.

“There are conflicting pressures on these tapes, and a number of potential issues have been raised,” William Tuthill, an attorney for the county, told The Denver Post. “The school district has said it is not interested in having copies made, yet we have had literally hundreds of requests from the media for copies.”

The surveillance videotapes, some of which show Klebold and Harris inside the high school, have been viewed by law enforcement agencies for training purposes. Time magazine was allowed to view the videotapes Klebold and Harris made, which were the foundation for a cover story Time published last December. Since then, families of the 13 other victims and local media have been allowed to view the same tapes, but no copies have been released. The county has received about 300 requests for copies of the videotapes.

(Stone v. Jefferson County)

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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