FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ryshon Wells,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-374

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and State

of Connecticut, Department of

Correction,

 
  Respondents April 22, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 19, 2008, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2008-327; Ryshon Wells v. Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport.

 

The complainant, who is incarcerated, appeared via teleconference, pursuant to the January 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Department of Correction.  See Docket No. CV 03-0826293, Anthony Sinchak v. FOIC et al, Superior Court, J.D. of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.).

 

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

1.      The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated June 6, 2008 and filed on June 10, 2008, the complainant filed a complaint with this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by withholding records that were sent to him by the city of Bridgeport’s chief of police in response to his FOI records request to the Bridgeport police department.

 

3.      The Commission takes administrative notice of its record and final decision in the Matter of a Complaint by Ryshon Wells against Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport, Docket #FIC 2006-639, notice of which final decision was issued on October 10, 2007, in which this Commission ordered the disclosure of the records described in paragraph 2, 3, and 4 of that final decision as follows:

 

2. It is found that by letter dated November 20, 2006, the complainant made a request to the respondent for a copy of the following:

 

a.  ‘Luis Rivera, D.O.B. 5/17/83, written/oral statement, Incid. no 060326-174, Date 3/26/06, Invest. no 05d451;’

b.   ‘Benito Rivera, D.O.B. 9/24/81, written/oral statement, Date 3/26/06, Incid. no. 060326-174, Invest. no 05d451;’

c.     ‘Samuel Salicrup, written/oral statement, Date 3/26/06, Incid. no. 060326-174, Invest. no 05d451;’

d.    ‘Pedro Feliciano, written/oral statement, Date 3/26/06, Incid. no. 060326-174, Invest. no 05d451;’

e.     ‘Dispatch recording, Date 3/26/06, time 1524 hours, Incid. no. 060326-174, Invest. no 05d451;’

f.       ‘Bridgeport Police Officer Laricca, incident report no. 060326-174;’

 

3. It is found that, by letter dated November 20, 2006, the complainant made a request to the respondent for a copy of the following:

 

a.  ‘Sergeant Strauble’s supplemental report and color photo a-ray use/made in investigation, incident no. 060326-174;’

b.  ‘Sergeant Lougal’s supplemental report and color photo a-ray use/made in investigation, incident no. 060326-174;’

c.    ‘Detective Grasso’s supplemental report and color photo a-ray use/made in investigation, incident no. 060326-174;’

d.    ‘Detective Lemelin’s supplemental report and color photo a-ray use/made in investigation, incident no. 060326-174;’

e.      ‘Detective Fiumidinisi’s supplemental report and color photo a-ray use/made in investigation, incident no. 060326-174;’ and

f.       ‘any other photo’s used during the investigation to identify suspect in incident no. 060326-174;’ 

 

4. It is found that, by letter dated November 20, 2006, the complainant made a request to the respondent for a copy of the following:

 

a. ‘description of physical evidence, receipt no: 06m391, 06m392, 06cg195, Incid. no. 060326-174, Invest. no 05d45;’

b.      ‘Bridgeport police officer Orbegozo, related incident report case no. file 060326-198;’

c.       ‘Bridgeport police officer Parker, related incident report case no. file 060326-198;’

d.      ‘Detective Tenn supplemental report, incident report case no. file 060326-198;’

e.       ‘A.T.F. Task force Detective Dowling supplemental report, incident report case no. file 060326-198;’ and

f.        ‘Bridgeport police department, “Collective of Evidence Manual.’

 

4.      The Commission takes administrative notice of the order in Docket #FIC 2006-639 which states in relevant part that:

Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records described in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, of the findings above, free of charge.

 

5.      It is found that on April 28, 2008 and May 19, 2008, the Bridgeport chief of police sent to the complainant a redacted and unredacted copy of records responsive to the request described in paragraph 3, above, with the exception of one document, a property receipt numbered 391, which, at the hearing on this matter, the respondents agreed to provide to the complainant forthwith.

 

6.      It is found that the records described in paragraph 3, above, were screened by the respondents, pursuant to its mail screening policy, before they were provided to the complainant.  It is found that at the conclusion of the respondents’ screening process, the complainant was provided with all of the records described in paragraph 3, above, with the exception of three witness statements and the photo arrays that accompanied them.

 

7.      It is found that at least one of the statements is that of an inmate in the custody of the respondents during the time relevant to this appeal.

 

8.      At the hearing on this matter, the respondents contended that the three witness statements were withheld pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S.  The respondents contended that the disclosure of the statements would put the witnesses at risk of being assaulted in retaliation for their statements and cause a disruption in a correctional facility.

 

9.      Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S., provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of:

 

Records, the disclosure of which the Commissioner of Correction   . . . has reasonable grounds to believe may result in a safety risk, including the risk of harm to any person or the risk of an escape from, or a disorder in, a correctional institution or facility under the supervision of the Department of Correction or Whiting Forensic Division facilities .…

 

10.  The respondents provided the three witness statements for in camera inspection which have been marked as in camera records docket #FIC 2008-374-01 through 2008-374-029.

 

11.   After careful review of the in camera records, it is found that the respondents did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the disclosure of the three witness statements may result in a safety risk within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

12.  Notwithstanding the finding in paragraph 11, above, and based on a careful in camera inspection, this Commission finds, sua sponte, that the records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S., which provides in relevant part that:

 

Records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to

 the public which records were compiled in connection with the

detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records

would not be in the public interest because it would result in the

disclosure of … signed statements of witnesses…

 

13.  It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act in this matter.

 

 

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

 

            1.  The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

 

           

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Ryshon Wells #292862  

Northern C I

287 Bilton Road

P.O. Box 665

Somers, CT 06071

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and State

of Connecticut, Department of

Correction

C/o Nicole Anker, Esq.

State of Connecticut

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-374FD/sw/4/29/2009