Homestead Police Department being sued again by Dr. James Eric McDonough for public records violations. This is not the first lawsuit brought
against the city for the actions they have taken to hide, prohibit, or otherwise violate public records laws.
Public Records lawsuits are difficult generally for attorneys to pick up so many times you'll hear them being done pro-se. Eric McDonough has several pro-se lawsuits specifically against The City of Homestead, Florida.
Recently a video surfaced of a Homestead cop telling a man to ‘shut
up’ on his doorbell camera. Lackluster, a media company who publishes on YouTube,
had obtained the video footage and posted it to the internet. The city
acknowledged the incident and made a public statement about it. That's when a
record request was made for the body camera for the incident.
According to the lawsuit the city overcharged, resulting in an excessive charge for the body cameras that were already retrieved due to the investigation underway. The receipt also shows minimal redactions, and videos that were under 1 minute but charges still remained on these videos despite the city offering 30 minutes of free time. The city also expanded upon the ‘incident’ by including a separate contact with police later in the day and attempted to lump all of that into one request causing these excessive charges and now delays in the records due to the excessive charges.
The city then changed the invoice offering more video footage but now at a lower rate. This would proverbially be exhibit 1 to the excessive charge where they reduced the pricing of the videos. Eric McDonough promised a lawsuit for the violations and it has been filed and served. (See below)
The Judge who was assigned to the case granted an order sua sponte demanding the city reply and appear in court on 05/24/2022. We will see how this plays out. Cities often play games with public records requests by overcharging, excessive wait times, and many of them will just ignore you. I do not know how this city can retain the employees who are responsible for this. Oh, I do... it’s the government, they do what they want.
Thanks to Eric McDonough for not only this public records lawsuit, but you may have heard about McDonough v. Fernandez-Rundell. That case is important to secretly recording of public officials specifically a police chief.