Transparency

I Asked for Public Records on a Fatal Police Shooting. Then a Washington Sheriff's Office Sued Me.

The move is similar to what's known as a "reverse FOIA" lawsuit, which forces the requester to go to court to defend his right to access public records.

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A Washington state superior court judge issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday against the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and myself to block the release of public records regarding the fatal September 3 shooting of Michael Forest Reinoehl by a law enforcement task force.

The judge granted a motion filed Tuesday by the Thurston County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) seeking to temporarily enjoin the Washington DOC from releasing records to me on Reinoehl, who was killed by a fugitive task force composed of U.S. marshals and several Washington law enforcement agencies, including the Washington DOC.

Reinoehl, a self-proclaimed anti-fascist, was charged with second-degree murder in the August 29 shooting death of Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron Danielson in Portland. Reinoehl had been wanted for five days when a federal fugitive task force caught up with him in Lacey, Washington. The circumstances surrounding Reinoehl's shooting remain unclear. Task force agents said Reinoehl either pointed a gun or was in the process of drawing a gun when he was shot. However, civilian eyewitnesses said the police didn't announce themselves before unleashing a barrage of gunfire that killed Reinoehl. None of the law enforcement officers in the task force were wearing body cameras. In the final weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump frequently bragged about the killing.

On September 8, I filed public records requests to all the agencies in the task force for body camera footage, incident reports, and other documents related to the shootings. All of those agencies except the Washington DOC rejected the requests, citing the TCSO's ongoing homicide investigation. The TCSO was not part of the task force and is conducting an independent investigation into the incident.

On November 24, the Washington DOC notified me that it had collected responsive records, but due to the TCSO investigation, it would be notifying the sheriff's office before releasing anything.

In its Tuesday motion, the TCSO argued that the release of the records would "undermine the integrity of Thurston County's criminal investigation and irreparably damage vital governmental functions." The TCSO estimates that its investigation will take two more months.

The TCSO's lawsuit is similar to what's known as a "reverse FOIA" suit, an attempt by a government agency to force requesters to defend their right to access public records in court. As I wrote in a 2018 column with the unfortunately prescient headline "The Right to Know Might Get You Sued," more and more state and local agencies around the country have used this tactic to undermine transparency laws:

Unlike typical government stonewalling tactics, which put the onus on requesters to sue for records, these lawsuits instead make the information seekers bear the costs and time of going to trial to defend their right to know what their government is doing. This is an overt use of courts to drag more of the public business back into the shadows and enforce a type of sub rosa censorship.

The temporary restraining order bars the Washington DOC from releasing records to Reason until January 8, when the court will hold a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction.

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    4. I was having trouble getting worked up one way or another. Nationalsocialists and communists both worship altruist sacrifice and death, and make up much of the 95% gulled into endorsing more initiation of force with the votes they waste on the Kleptocracy parties. Roman and Aztec holidays are clearly part of their medieval cultures, so why not let them Remarque-ably duke it out and sell tickets for revenue?

  2. We must all be kept ignorant of the doings of Government Almighty, for our own good! Ignorance good, knowledge bad!

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  5. Could be worse. You could post on Instagram about how the Biden-led 1994 Crime Bill led to big increases in black incarceration. They will then label it false.

    Welcome to the new golden age of media.

    1. Both Biden and Clinton loved to throw around loaded terminology like, “super-predators” when talking about street crime in majority black communities. It appealed to their voting base.

      1. Joe Biden in fact never used the term superpredators.

        1. Joe Biden in fact never used the term superpredators.

          In fact, eh? That’s a seriously bold assertion. Other than your personal recollection of everything he has ever said…cite?

          1. I watched the video and not once did use the term super-predators.

            He did call them predators and made a case for putting them in jail and keeping them there. He even mentioned that you serve 85% of your sentence for a federal crime. He doesn’t care about their background, their upbringing, their income status. It’s a strong anti-crime message. He does say a couple of sentences about fixing the conditions they were raised in.

            Here is a video of Hillary using the super-predator term (26.22 mark) when referring to gang members. Funny how Trump was taken to task for ruffly the same comment. She also talks about how we need more cops on the street to prevent crimes.

            https://www.c-span.org/video/?69606-1/hillary-clinton-campaign-speech

        2. It was Hillary Clinton who used the term, if I recall. Biden just passed the bill.

        3. Biden IS a superpredator. He even has a Suprpredator costume he wears at children’s parties.

        4. Joe Biden in fact never used the term superpredators.

          Yeah, he referred to them as “predators” who were “beyond the pail”, and who needed to be removed from society. I’m sure he meant something completely different.

      2. Both Biden and Clinton loved to throw around loaded terminology like, “super-predators

        “Super-predator” was an effort to minimize the problem of vastly higher black crime rates. The more crimes / person that could be blamed on the criminal cohort the smaller that group could be and therefore the more law abiding blacks. People now pretend the reference to super-predators was to generic (presumably black) criminals rather than the narrow use above because it allows them to imply others are racist and therefore they are morally pure for calling it out.

    2. how exactly is that worse? Did you have to pay to post that to instagram, like you do with FOIA requests? Do you now have to go to court? Apples and oranges dude.

      1. Washington means, literally, nothing to me. So problems there could not be less relevant to me. Washington government oppresses you? Sounds like not my problem.

    3. The Associated Press officially declared Biden’s 1994 Crime Bill the Winner.

  6. Well probably get some future article on why an avowed antifa terrorist is a sympathetic figure because of big bad gubermint.

    1. He at least doesn’t deserve to get shot and killed by police during his arrest, if he indeed wasn’t posing a threat to the arresting officer. Maybe we can agree on that?

      1. I agree completely.

        Blasting away without any warning is not how our police should operate.

        They are always mis-identifying vehicles and people.

        1. I am pretty sure that there was video of this incident posted online shortly after it took place. As I recall it was pretty damning for Reinoehl. It clearly showed him shooting at the police in broad daylight. I suppose this doesn’t completely absolve law enforcement of any wrongdoing though.

        2. He was a fugitive, known to be armed, and wanted for murder. He knew exactly who was coming after him. “Without warning” is horseshit.

          Does not mean he should have been shot, but it does strongly mitigate against anyone else being at fault for him getting shot.

      2. Too bad you and the rest of the Marxist apologists here don’t have the same concern for their victims.

        I’m sure the antifa witnesses were perfectly honest with the authorities they despise and journolists covering this will be looking for the truth rather than pushing an agenda.

        1. I don’t like Marxists any more than I like authoritarians that would use the police to kill their political opponents.

          1. This statement is redundant.

        2. Too bad you and the rest of the Marxist apologists here don’t have the same concern for their victims.

          One who believes government agents should not be reckless with the use of deadly force is a Marxist apologist? Or is it possible to be both sympathetic to victims and recognize government agents’ obligation to respect everyone’s rights, including human debris and the mentally ill?

          Neither this retard nor George Floyd were decent people. That doesn’t give agents of the state license to kill them without justification.

          1. We’ve reached a great place in partisan demagoguery when we have to consider the politics of the victim of civil rights abuses by the state when we determine whether to support the police or not.

            Rights for me, but none for thee. What a principle.

            1. No, just that the people concerned are only concerned when it comes to consequences for those on the left. That the lies of the left are to be taken at face value as truth and disagreement with the narrative is apostasy.

            2. No enemies to the left, eh Leo?

              Color me unsurprised.

    2. The funny thing about rights is they don’t (or shouldn’t) just apply to you and your friends. Abuses of the people we dislike are the abuses we should fight the most vigorously, because by the time they come for you they’ll have precedent on their side.

      1. Well, it’s a New Normal, and Reason has given up all standing to bitch about any Daddy Gov abuse

        1. The eternal victimhood of the cult is getting pretty worn out.

          1. I hope that’s true. The liberals have used that card for way too long.

            1. We need to make progressives into real victims.

  7. Nice to see Reason show more concern for the marxist murderer than the Proud Boy he assassinated.

    1. Idiot.

      1. Factual truth stated by OP makes you cry. Why?

    2. Judge Dredd wasn’t a documentary.

      1. But a number of law enforcement agencies seem to think it’s an instructional video.

    3. One was killed by the state, one wasn’t. See the difference?

      It’s not like Reason is saying that the “Marxist” shouldn’t stand trial. Even bad guys have rights, try as you might to deny them.

      1. One was a murderous enemy of civilization, knowingly seeking to avoid arrest and travelling in public while armed.

        The other was the victim he killed solely for his politics.

        I know you are not capable of understanding those distinctions. But I also know it’s also more about lack of want to than actual mental capacity.

  8. Sad to see CJ undermining faith in our most sacred institutions by implying that our humble public servants might be less than honest and pure and dedicated to the highest principles of democracy. For shame! You know full well that questioning our government destroys trust in that government and this is very bad for our Republic. It’s seditious and treasonous and I for one won’t stand for it.

    1. It’s been interesting to watch right-wingers on a libertarian blog contort themselves around the fact that the BLM protests are essentially in alignment with libertarian ideals regarding abuse of government authority. While it’s a natural point of agreement where Americans with otherwise very different opinions can work together, conservatives find themselves unable to do so and instead label them as “Marxists.” I guess “Marxist” is the new dog-whistle for “Black.”

      1. It’s been interesting to watch right-wingers on a libertarian blog contort themselves around the fact that the BLM protests are essentially in alignment with libertarian ideals regarding abuse of government

        I disagree, there are some entirely superficial things about BLM which are in alignment with libtertarian ideas, but they fade pretty quickly the deeper you dive. They are initiating an entirely racialized view of anti-authoritarianism… and the alignment is easier to live with if you ignore the racialized elements of it.

        In addition, BLM, by design, chooses the most contentious cases to champion, because that’s the best way to destabilize systems.

        None of this even begins to address the very real racialized elements of this– that most people within the black community are fundamentally against the defunding of the police. This is why the instant that BLM is given carte blanche, the first thing that happens is unarmed black teenagers are killed by the people who claim to be standing up for black people.

      2. It’s been interesting to watch right-wingers on a libertarian blog contort themselves around the fact that the BLM protests are essentially in alignment with libertarian ideals regarding abuse of government authority.

        Who else knew burning down and looting businesses because someone else killed someone is a libertarian value? Or supporting murder of those who do not think this a good idea?

        https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12537799/blm-portland-killing-fascist-us-flag-burned/

        I wish I had a more comprehensive introduction. I would have chosen something else.

      3. LOL – they’re ain’t no black people in the BLM “protests”.

      4. the BLM protests are essentially in alignment with libertarian ideals

        Bullshit. Libertarians don’t support looting, arson and murder.

        -jcr

        1. Shawn Dude does. He’s a good progressive. They love committing violent crimes.

      5. “It’s been interesting to watch right-wingers on a libertarian blog contort themselves around the fact that the BLM protests are essentially in alignment with libertarian ideals regarding abuse of government authority.”

        …except for that pesky rioting, assault, arson, murder…

        If all of those are included in libertarian philosophy, explains why it is such a fucking joke.

  9. “”BLM protests are essentially in alignment with libertarian ideals regarding abuse of government authority””

    Libertarians may agree that the arrest of a person who is so drunk behind the wheel that they pass out in a Wendy’s drive through is indeed a valid arrest. And it would be wrong to resist that arrest, punch the officer, steal the officer’s taser, and then flee the scene.

    I’ve never heard anyone in the BLM crowd condemn the resistance of the lawful arrest, the assault of the officer, the theft of the weapon, fleeing the scene of a lawful arrest. I have yet to hear one BLM person condemn the drunk guy for risking lives by driving that drunk. I don’t think libertarians would put that guy on a pedestal.

    1. Isn’t it amazing that a guy “so drunk behind the wheel that they [sic] pass out in a Wendy’s drive through” can suddenly recover so well that he can “punch the officer, steal the officer’s taser, and then flee the scene”? (Assuming the officer was at least as competent as Barney Fife.)

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  11. A counter suit seems all to appropriate.

  12. When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition — and are allowed (by your neighbors and friends — hopefully not you) to
    • Make the laws,
    • Enforce the laws,
    • Prosecute the laws,
    • Hire the prosecutors,
    • License the “defense” attorneys,
    • Pay the “judges”,
    • Build the jails,
    • Contract jails out to private entities,
    • Employ and pay the wardens,
    • Employ and pay the guards,
    • Employ and pay the parole officers,
    One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.

    1. Yea, but at least it ensures “free and fair” elections and our civil rights, so we can totes trust them without question.

  13. Nothing new here, watching each others backs, very unsurprising.
    But why is this included….
    “President Donald Trump frequently bragged about the killing.”
    Does this blurb move the story in one direction or another? Do you suspect Trump has something to do with the stonewalling based on his level of bragging? Or, is this just virtue signaling? I honestly can’t figure out why this is included in the article. Sort of like, McDonalds screwed up my order, Trump loves McDonalds….. wth?

    1. Exactly, but
      “I honestly can’t figure out why this is included in the article”.
      It’s TDS plain and simple

    2. I came here to say the same thing. I got to that point in in otherwise interesting article and stopped.

      It says more about the writer’s immaturity than Trump.

  14. If this guy is ANTIFA and you are labeling him as anti-fascist, then you are part of the problem.

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  16. Thurston County, none of the State Capitol, has some power issues.

    The history of sexually malicious abuse at the OK Boys Ranch may be the worst anywhere. I don’t know if the local board involvement is still available online.
    https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19951214&slug=2157707

  17. “President Donald Trump frequently bragged about the killing”
    I don’t remember this at all, but even if true, why say it?
    Ciaramella obviously suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, and/or the inability to stay on subject while writing.
    I’m strongly against unnecessary police shooting, but this guy needed to be dead, so I’m having a hard time finding sympathy.

    1. Anyone reading the article could click on the link. There, POTUS Donald Trump, the same mystical looter who pontificated that women need “some” punishment for exercising individual rights over their reproductive functions, bragged on camera in front of the hostile press that U.S. Marshals had gunned down the suspect. Reason has–for 4 decades I can attest to–backed its claims with verifiable stuff that looks a LOT like objective evidence… to all but the blind who WILL not see. –Libertariantranslator

  18. Oh it sounds like a FOIA request comes with a stipulation of contempt of court if you do not use the information yourself.

    Maybe people really should appear in court if they want to know something that only the federal government can verify. Or maybe the request should be billed according to its fair market value if it can then be used to attest to a fact.

    Maybe the national government should not be processing requests for free, because, what does free get us?

    1. All FOIA request forms burden the signer with liability for whatever the looters dream up in the way of ex-post-facto “expenses.” You should try reading one sometime.

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