FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Andrew J. Mezzi,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-572

Chief, Police Department,

City of New Haven,

 
  Respondent October 10, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 23, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1.      The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      It is found that by letter dated October 21, 2006, the complainant made a request to the respondent for a copy of “the complete, unabridged and unredacted file, case 02-45693, for [his] son, James F. Mezzi, deceased” [hereinafter “investigation file”].

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated October 30, 2006 and filed on November 2, 2006, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his October 21, 2006 request.

 

4.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

5.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: 

 

[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

 

6.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record . . . .” 

 

7.      It is found that the investigation file is a public record within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

8.      It is found that, on or about January 19, 2007, the complainant obtained records from the respondent that totaled 26 pages and were represented by the respondent to be the complete investigation file.

 

9.      At the hearing on this matter, the complainant contended that the respondent failed to comply with his records request because certain records were not included in the records that the respondent provided to him.  He claimed that the file should have included: an autopsy report; a toxicology report; the death certificate; some report from the medical examiner’s office; a log of the personal property that was retrieved at the scene of his son’s death; records with respect to interviews conducted by the investigating officer of two particular individuals; his son’s cell phone records from the night of his death; and a letter from the State’s Attorney’s office.

 

10.  It is found that the sergeant who oversees the New Haven Police Department’s Records Division conducted the search for the records responsive to the complainant’s request.  It is found that the sergeant searched the files maintained in the records division and compiled the records described in paragraph 8, above.  It is also found that the sergeant made a request to the New Haven Police Department’s Detective Bureau for the “working file” that corresponded to the investigation file maintained in the records division.  It is found, however, that he did not receive a response from the bureau and did not pursue that avenue of his search any further.

 

11.   It is found that the respondent failed to conduct and complete a thorough search for records responsive to the complainant’s October 21, 2006 request by failing to pursue a search of the “working file” described in paragraph 10, above.

 

12.   It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to conduct a thorough search for the requested records.

 

13.   At the hearing on this matter, the respondent agreed to search for the records described in paragraph 9, above, and to search specifically in the “working file” maintained by the Detective Bureau.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.      The respondent, if he has not already done so, shall forthwith conduct a diligent search of the department’s files, including the “working file” described in paragraph 10 of the findings, above, for the records described in paragraph 9 of the findings, above.  Thereafter, the respondent shall provide the complainant with any records that are discovered as a result of such search, free of charge.  If no records exist, the respondent shall notify the complainant by affidavit of the results of such search.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 10, 2007.

 

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

 

Andrew J. Mezzi

86 North Cherry Street

Wallingford, CT 06492-2306

 

Chief, Police Department,

City of New Haven

c/o Kathleen Foster, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel

165 Church Street

New Haven, CT 06510

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2006-572FD/paj/10/16/2007