LILLINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge will review more than 300 pages of documents before deciding whether the public can see the results of a state investigation into the shooting of a man who refused a warrantless search of his home.
Superior Court Judge Gale Adams was asked Tuesday to block a different judge’s order to release the case file to attorneys for John Livington’s family with no requirement they keep the documents from the public.
Livingston’s family is preparing to sue the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. Livingston was killed on his porch in November after refusing to let a deputy search his home without a warrant. The deputy said Livingston closed the door on his foot, provoking a 10-minute fight that made him fear for his life.
A grand jury refused to indict Deputy Nicholas Kehagias, who left the sheriff’s office in June.
Edgar Bain, a lawyer for the district attorney who refused to release the records, showed the judge a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s office saying making them public could cause problems with federal agents investigating whether a criminal civil rights case can be made against the deputy and the sheriff’s office.
Bain also said the request for records, including the State Bureau of Investigation report, includes information that isn’t required to be made public, and ultimately comes from reporters and others “just being nosy.”
“This isn’t just being nosy,” countered Robert Zaytoun, who represents Livingston’s family. “It’s a matter of the public’s right to know.”
Zaytoun said prosecutors have already released evidence favorable to the sheriff’s office.
“Pieces of the investigation have been released, mostly detrimental to Mr. Livingston. When the facts are being cherry-picked like that, we want to see the rest,” he said.
According to media reports, the lawyers did not object when the judge said she would need at least two weeks to read the more than 300 pages of records.