A judge has denied a motion that had sought to prevent the release of videos from a 2017 officer-involved shooting in Leavenworth.

A judge has denied a motion that had sought to prevent the release of videos from a 2017 officer-involved shooting in Leavenworth.

Tuesday’s ruling by District Judge David King does not mean the requested videos will be released. But the case will move forward to another hearing.

“So the matter will go forward with a hearing on the merits,” King said.

The open records lawsuit was filed earlier this year on behalf of the wife and other family members of Antonio Garcia Jr.

Garcia was fatally shot July 11, 2017, by Leavenworth police Officer Matthew Harrington.

Harrington later was terminated from the Leavenworth Police Department, and he is now charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the shooting.

Family members of Garcia are seeking police videos that were recorded the night of the shooting.

An attorney for the city of Leavenworth had filed a motion asking the judge to view police video materials and make a ruling to deny the request for the release of the materials based on information that had been submitted in the case.

Michael Seck, an attorney for the city of Leavenworth, and John Cusick, an attorney representing Garcia’s wife and other family members, made oral arguments concerning the motion Tuesday in Leavenworth County District Court.

King announced at the start of the hearing that he had viewed video materials provided to him by Seck.

“I reviewed all of these,” the judge said.

During the hearing, Seck argued the city is not required to release the videos under the Kansas Open Records Act because they are criminal investigation records.

“There is no question these are criminal investigation records,” he said.

He said the videos are criminal investigation records from an investigation of Garcia’s wife, Heather.

Following the July 11, 2017, shooting, Heather Garcia was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly tampering with evidence. She resolved the case by entering into a diversion agreement.

Seck said the videos also are criminal investigation records from an investigation of Harrington.

Seck also argued the videos do not have to be released under the law because the disclosure would interfere with criminal prosecution.

He also argued the disclosure would reveal a confidential source. He said the July 11, 2017, incident was initiated by a 911 call. The attorney said he is not sure if the source of this phone call is publicly known.

Seck acknowledged there may be public scrutiny or public curiosity regarding the police videos. But he argued that disclosure of the videos is not a matter of public interest as defined by court decisions.

Cusick argued that disclosure of the videos would be in the public interest because they address matters of safety and transparency.

“We believe that this is a legitimate public interest,” he said.

Cusick noted that Seck had asserted disclosure of the videos would interfere with criminal prosecution.

But Cusick said it is not the right of the city to make this assertion. He argued the County Attorney’s Office should make this assertion.

He said county prosecutors have not joined the city in opposing the release of these records.

“They have not brought that to the court’s attention,” he said.

Cusick also said he would argue that the source of a 911 call is not a confidential informant.

Following the arguments, King said attorneys for Heather Garcia and other family members will have the opportunity to prove the merits of the petition requesting the release of the videos.

The judge arranged to have a telephone conference with attorneys later in the day to schedule a hearing on the petition.

The hearing, which is considered a trial without a jury, has been scheduled for Nov. 15, according to Court Administrator Steve Crossland.

A portion of Tuesday’s hearing also focused on a recent change in another state law that allows the subjects of police car camera and body camera videos, their heirs or their attorneys to view the videos.

Cusick said he and another attorney went to the Leavenworth police station July 23 to view a video.

The video was from a body camera used by Harrington at the time of the 2017 shooting.

“We saw a video, not all of the videos,” Cusick said.

King said under the new law, which went into effect July 1, Heather Garcia and her attorneys have a right to see such videos.

The judge asked if city officials placed limitations on who could have viewed the video at the police station.

Cusick said he is not aware of any limitations. He said going to the police station may have caused an emotional response among members of Garcia’s family.

“So we chose not to bring them to that environment,” he said.

Seck argued that attorneys for Heather Garcia requested only to see the video from Harrington’s body camera.

“And that is what they were shown at the Police Department,” he said.

He said the parties were asked to view the video at the police station so there would be some level of control to prevent copying of the video.

King said he believes the request from Heather Garcia and her attorneys to view the video under the new law has been satisfied. Based on a July 16 letter provided to King, the judge said attorneys only asked to see Harrington’s body camera video.

Cusick said viewing the video at the police station does not preclude attorneys from still seeking the release of videos under the Kansas Open Records Act.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR