Earlier today, The Bay State Examiner mailed a public records request to Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett seeking documents related to the DA's investigation of the fatal police shooting of Denis Reynoso.
Reynoso was shot to death in front of his five year-old son on September 5 of last year by Lynn police officer Joshua Hilton after he and two other officers entered Reynoso's home without a warrant. The shooting led to a number of protests in Lynn and one in Boston which were attended by family members and other Reynoso supporters.
Last month, the district attorney released a four-and-a-half page report about the shooting that cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing. The Bay State Examiner raised a number of questions about the quality of the district attorney's investigation in an article published shortly after the report was released.
The records request submitted today calls on the district attorney to release all documents that were created or reviewed as part of the investigation of the Reynoso shooting including police reports, transcripts of witness interviews, and other documents.
The district attorney may charge fees for making copies and for redacting any documents that contain information exempt from disclosure under the public records law. The Bay State Examiner has asked the district attorney to waive any fees.
"The shooting of Denis Reynoso has generated a great deal of community anger and sparked numerous protests by family members and other supporters who have questioned both the actions of the police and the credibility of the district attorney's investigation. In order to address these concerns, the district attorney should be more transparent about the investigation by disclosing its records at no charge," the records request reads.
Under the state public records law, the district attorney must respond to the request within 10 days of receiving it. When we receive a response to the records request, we plan to publish all the documents online so that they may be studied by other members of the public.
Here's the full text of our public records request:
District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett,
I am writing to you on behalf of The Bay State Examiner, an independent news media organization in Massachusetts.
This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10) for records from the Essex County District Attorney's Office. As you may be aware, the Public Records Law requires you to provide me with a written response within 10 calendar days. If you cannot comply with this request, you are statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.
We request copies of all documents created and/or reviewed by the Essex County District Attorney's Office as part of its investigation of the fatal shooting of Denis Reynoso.
Such records would include, but are not necessarily limited, to to the following:
- Police reports
- Training, certification, and employment information, and disciplinary records of the officers involved in the shooting
- Recordings and transcripts of 911 calls and witness interviews
- Photographic and video evidence
- Ballistics reports
- Gunshot residue test reports
- DNA test reports
- Toxicology reports
- Meeting minutes
- Any notes related to the investigation
- Any mail and email correspondence related to the investigation
- Any policy documents that were reviewed as part of the investigation
Additionally, please provide a list of all cases the Essex County District Attorney's Office has investigated or prosecuted that have involved the participation of Lynn police officers Joshua Hilton, John Bernard, and/or Paul Scali.
We recognize that you may charge reasonable costs for copies, as well as for personnel time needed to comply with this request. We request that you waive all fees associated with the fulfillment of this request because the release of these records is in the public interest. The shooting of Denis Reynoso has generated a great deal of community anger and sparked numerous protests by family members and other supporters who have questioned both the actions of the police and the credibility of the district attorney's investigation. In order to address these concerns, the district attorney should be more transparent about the investigation by disclosing its records at no charge. Once the records have been disclosed to us, we will make them available to the general public free of charge as part of a public information service.
In the event that the fees cannot be waived, we would be grateful if you would provide a detailed fee estimate.
When possible, we would prefer electronic copies of your records over paper copies.
If you withhold any of the requested records under an exemption to the public records law, please provide an itemized list of the exempt records, specify which exemptions you are citing, and articulate why the exemption applies to the record in question.
We appreciate your time and consideration. We look forward to your anticipated cooperation in fulfilling this public records request.