DENIED 

A KXAN INVESTIGATIVE SERIES

Texas law gives police discretion to withhold information if a suspect dies in custody. Legislative efforts to close that loophole have failed, but it has not stopped the families who have been denied video and other records detailing their loved ones' final moments from speaking out. Now, a year-long KXAN investigation is shedding light on this crucial need for police accountability, transparency and trust.


Case Files

  • Graham Dyer Case

    Police were dispatched to a school where Graham Dyer, 18, who appeared intoxicated, “ran full speed into an external glass door” and “began slamming his head...

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    Graham Dyer Case
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Zachary Anam Case

    While handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol car on the way to police headquarters, Anam made suicidal comments to the officer behind the wheel, then...

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    Zachary Anam Case
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Texas Public Information Act: “Dead Suspect” Exemption

Under the Texas Public Information Act, law enforcement agencies may block the release of certain information in a closed case that didn’t end in a conviction. But when the only suspects die in custody, they will never have their day in court.

Sec.552.108. EXCEPTION:  CERTAIN LAW ENFORCEMENT, CORRECTIONS, AND PROSECUTORIAL INFORMATION.  (a)  Information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if: (2)  it is information that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication;

In 2017, state lawmakers proposed an amendment to require police to release such information:
•    If the person it involves is dead or agrees to its release.
•    If it relates to a peace officer who is the subject of a criminal or internal investigation arising out of his or her involvement in a crime.
A House panel unanimously voted in favor of the legislation, but it failed to progress before the session ended. Efforts are underway to craft a similar bill in 2019.
 

infographic showing 155,000 requests for info made.

Inside the Investigation

  • Denied: Inside the Investigation

    Denied: Inside the Investigation

    This project isn’t just about a journalist’s fight for records. It’s about a law with unintended consequences, impacting families and possibly bringing doubt to communities. Transparency leads to trust. And when people trust police, it hopefully makes officers' jobs easier and your city safer. Go inside to find out how DENIED began.

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Quiz: Would you release the video?

KXAN's investigation showed the level of discretion left to police to determine whether or not to release videos of in custody deaths. Take our quiz to find out if you'll make the same decisions as police.

 

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Contributors


Josh Hinkle, Executive Producer

Andrew Choat, Videographer

Ricardo Ruano, Graphic Artist

Calily Bien & Patrick Tolbert, Digital 

Eric Henrikson, Chris Stelly, Nate Mills and Dax Dobbs, Creative Services

Chad Cross, News Director

Eric Lassberg, Vice President & General Manager