West Virginia Record

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

State sues City of Huntington for FOIA request denial

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 4, 2013


HUNTINGTON - The State of West Virginia, by way of Charleston attorney Michael T. Clifford, is suing the City of Huntington for refusing to release records requested through the Freedom of Information Act.

Clifford represents the Estate of Joshua Jonnie Emerson, who was shot to death by Huntington Police Officer Stephen Fitz on Dec. 22, according to a complaint filed March 28 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Clifford claims on Feb. 26, he sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act to Chief of Police Skip Holbrook, which was denied.

Closed criminal proceedings are subject to FOIA and are not exempted, according to the suit, and based upon statements made by Holbrook, the refusal to provide the requested information and the failure to provide the information Clifford requested, it is apparent that the denial of access to the records is a ruse, in bad faith, clearly illegal and contrary to existing law.

Clifford claims the defendant has conspired to deprive his client with information, documentation, photographs and/or either or both audio and video recordings that concern the client.

The information Clifford requested is public information and not part of any ongoing investigation by any law enforcement agency, according to the suit.

The plaintiff is seeking that the court order production of the records requested.

Fitz shot Emerson after Emerson allegedly tried to attack a security guard with a knife following a vehicle accident, reports say.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-203

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State of West Virginia