MARTINEZ, Calif. — A judge on Friday ruled that a new state law requires Northern California police departments to release records on officer shootings and misconduct that may date back years.
However, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Charles Treat put his ruling on hold for 10 days so that police unions can appeal.
The ruling was the first in more than a dozen legal cases around the state involving Senate Bill 1421. Signed last year in the wake of a series of high-profile police killings, the law was designed to guarantee public access to police records involving investigations into officer shootings, use-of-force incidents that caused great bodily injury or death, and those involving officers found to have committed misconduct such as sexual assault or falsifying evidence.
“Today’s decision gives hope to those who have long fought for such disclosures, especially black and brown communities that have long been subjected to police violence,” said a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
The organization represented Richard Perez, who is seeking records related to the killing of his 24-year-old son, Richard “Pedie” Perez, by a Richmond officer in 2014.
Dozens of police agencies have released at least some records. However, some police unions argued that the law should only apply to records created after the law took effect on Jan. 1 and that previous personnel records are covered by longstanding law enforcement employee privacy laws.
Lawsuits seeking to block release of records requested by news organizations and others were filed last month.