A judge plans to issue a written ruling regarding whether police videos from a 2017 officer-involved shooting in Leavenworth should be released.

A judge plans to issue a written ruling regarding whether police videos from a 2017 officer-involved shooting in Leavenworth should be released.

District Judge David King heard testimony Thursday in a lawsuit seeking the release of video of a shooting that resulted in the death of Antonio Garcia Jr.

“The court is going to take the matter under advisement,” King said at the conclusion of the trial.

The judge did not provide a timeline for when he might issue a written opinion.

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

Harrington later was terminated from the Leavenworth Police Department. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the shooting.

Family members of Garcia filed an open records lawsuit, seeking the release of police videos that were recorded the night of the shooting.

During the trial Thursday, King said state law indicates video recordings by law enforcement are criminal investigation records. He said the law also indicates that such records generally are not subject to disclosure unless certain conditions have been met.

In a closing statement, Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Garcia’s family, argued a police body camera recording of the 2017 incident would not be prevented from being released under any of the legal exceptions for criminal investigation records.

He said the only exception outlined in the law that an attorney for the city has raised an issue with is an exception that concerns potential harm to someone.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens testified during the trial and expressed concern that the release of the video could pose a risk to Harrington. Kitchens said he had seen a social media post of Harrington that indicated the former police officer was wanted “dead or alive.”

“I just believe there’s an additional risk,” he said.

During his closing statement, Crump argued that an attorney for the city could have called other witnesses to testify about whether Harrington feels his life is in danger.

“They did not do that,” he said.

Crump said testimony from witnesses proved there is a legitimate public interest in the disclosure of the materials.

Crump said witnesses, including Kitchens, testified that accountability and transparency are important.

In his closing argument, Michael Seck, an attorney for the city, argued there was testimony about a generalized interest in transparency. But he argued there was no information provided to show the release of the video would advance public interest.

Seck said Kitchens, who was called to testify by attorneys for Garcia’s family, expressed fear of possible harm to Harrington.

Seck said Kitchens also expressed concern regarding whether Harrington may receive an impartial jury in his criminal case.

Under state law, one of the exceptions that would allow the release of a criminal investigation record is if it “would not interfere with any prospective law enforcement action, criminal investigation or prosecution.”

Crump argued that Seck could have called someone from the County Attorney’s Office regarding whether the release of the video would affect the possibility of a fair trial.

“There is no testimony that Matthew Harrington cannot get a completely fair and impartial trial,” Crump said.

The County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the criminal case against Harrington.

Leavenworth County Todd Thompson was not in the courtroom for Thursday’s trial. But two prosecutors from the County Attorney’s Office sat in the audience area of the courtroom during part of the trial.

Attorneys for Garcia’s family called several witnesses to testify in addition to Kitchens.

Among the witnesses were Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, a Topeka minister who participates in organizations involved in activism; Lora McDonald, executive director for Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity; and Kris Logan, chairwoman of the Kansas Libertarian Party.

The final witness was Jay Holbert, first vice president of the Johnson County NAACP.

Holbert is a retired law enforcement officer who worked for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

He said that transparency is the best way for law enforcement to build a good relationship with a community.

Seck did not call any witnesses on behalf of the city.

“The city has no witnesses,” he said. “Chief Kitchens was already called, so we rest as well.”

The next hearing in the criminal case against Harrington is scheduled for Jan. 2. That hearing is scheduled as a status hearing.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR