Eleven days after the Orlando massacre, the public still does not have full access to transcripts of the 911 calls made by the shooter and his victims. Thursday, a coalition of 22 media companies, including the parent company of the Miami Herald, filed suit against the city of Orlando for its refusal to release the calls from that night.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Orange County, challenges the city’s contention that those calls are exempt from public records laws because they record the killing of a person. The media consortium argues that the Orlando shooting is similar to the infamous Sandy Hook school shooting, in which a Connecticut court ruled that related 911 calls were not confidential despite state laws that restricted the release of child abuse records.
The lawsuit also asserts a key discrepancy in the city’s argument: “The federal government has stated that there were no reports of gunfire during the three-hour standoff. Thus no recordings created during that time could have captured any killings.”
“One important step in truly understanding what happened that night is contained in these and other records that haven’t been released,” said Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, executive editor of the Miami Herald, whose parent McClatchy joined the suit. “Under Florida law, the public has a right to know. That’s what we are asking for — compliance with state law.”