Reports from police officers that explain why they use force against someone are not exempt from the state’s public record law, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The opinion from the state’s highest court came months after an attorney, Keith Hall, requested use-of-force reports in the case of an off-duty police officer who allegedly hit his client outside a Little Rock restaurant.
When Hall didn’t get the records he asked for, he filed a petition against Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas, claiming that Thomas violated the Freedom of Information Act.
Thomas argued that the reports are exempt from the public records law as employee-evaluation or job-performance records.
The matter made its way to a circuit court judge, who said the reports are not exempt from the public records law.
Thomas appealed that judge’s decision and the Supreme Court granted his request for a stay in the case.
In Thursday’s opinion written by Associate Justice Robert L. Brown, the Supreme Court sided with the lower court judge and said the use-of-force documents are public record.