The attorney representing the mother of Dylan Noble claims the city of Fresno and Fresno Police Department are wrongly withholding public records and is seeking a court order requiring the city to hand over records related to the teenager’s death, according to court documents.
Attorney Stuart Chandler filed the petition Tuesday because he contends the city did not honor previous records requests. He is requesting the release of the initial 911 call to dispatch, a recording of the responding officers’ police radio transmissions, a recording of what officers said among themselves following the shooting, what information the city received from witnesses at the scene and “all other video of the incident – whether from police body cams or other sources.”
On June 25, the unarmed 19-year-old was shot to death during an encounter with Fresno police at a traffic stop in a gas station parking lot in east-central Fresno. Noble got out of his truck and was shot twice when he disobeyed orders to stop walking toward officers. He was shot twice more while on the ground when he disobeyed orders to stop moving his hands.
Lawyers for Noble’s parents claim the officers never made an attempt to use a Taser or other form of nonlethal force.
Chandler wrote that he submitted public records requests on July 1, 13 and 18. The resulting information releases were “late and did not include the full scope of records requested by the petitioner,” Chandler said in the court document.
Chandler wrote that a lawsuit against the city and Fresno Police Department is expected no later than Aug. 26. Claims against the city were filed this month on behalf of Noble’s mother, Veronica Nelson, and his father, Darren Noble.
For the past month the city has told only part of the story, supporting its position by releasing only part of the video.
Petition filed by attorney Stuart Chandler
In the petition, Chandler wrote that by the morning of July 18, his office had still not received body camera footage he had requested on July 1, even though the footage was already partly released to the news media. Chandler picked up a DVD copy of the footage released to the media July 18 after he faxed a letter to Assistant City Attorney Francine Kanne saying he would file a petition with the court if the footage was not released that day.
“If the city can provide the media with incomplete video last week, it certainly can provide the complete video to me today,” the letter said.
After receiving the partial footage, Chandler faxed a letter asking for the complete body camera footage and records related to the 911 call. According to court documents, the city objected to the records requests on the grounds that they are part of an ongoing investigation, the records contain information from pending or anticipated claims, and that the records seek information contained in employee personnel files.
“For the past month the city has told only part of the story, supporting its position by releasing only part of the video,” the petition said. “It is prejudicial to the claims presented by Dylan’s mother and father to not have the whole truth available to the public as soon as possible.
“Time is of the essence in completing a thorough investigation,” Chandler wrote. “The city well knows that evidence disappears and witnesses forget.”
Time is of the essence in completing a thorough investigation. The city well knows that evidence disappears and witnesses forget.
Petition filed by attorney Stuart Chandler
Earlier this month, the City Attorney’s Office said, “Our policy is to refrain from discussing any pending claim or litigation.”
Police Chief Jerry Dyer released the body camera footage from the shooting on July 13. The footage shows Noble ignoring the officers’ commands to show both of his hands and to stop moving his hands before he was shot.
Dyer has said the two veteran officers feared for their safety when they encountered Noble. Also, Dyer said Noble did not follow officers’ orders and twice put a hand into his waistband, then withdrew it quickly. The officers thought he was reaching for a gun, and so they fired, the chief said.
Both officers are on paid leave while the shooting is investigated. No weapon was found on Noble.