Judge blocks media from releasing autopsy report from 1 October victim

LAS VEGAS - A judge ruled on Friday the media cannot release the autopsy report of officer Charleston Hartfield who died in the 1 October shooting.

Clark County District Court Judge Richard Scotti cited privacy concerns as the reason for his ruling but clarified that his order only applied to the autopsy report of Hartfield and does not include the other victims. 

Last week, the Clark County Coroner's office was forced by a judge to release autopsies of the 58 people killed in the shooting.

The widow of Hartfield, Veronica, bought up the issue. 

"We're not ok. We're not ok," Veronica said. "This whole thing has been painful.  When you talk about something over and over again; you keep bringing things up.  This autopsy thing is another nail to pull out of my skin."

Her attorney argued the records are confidential and protected health information under federal law.

"We have a clear and present danger of the intentional infliction of serious harm on the families," said Tony Sgro, Veronica's attorney.

Attorneys for media including The Associated Press argued that once personal identifiers are redacted, claims to privacy no longer apply.

"Emotion is not evidence," said Maggie McLetchie, the attorney for the defense. "There is not a preponderance of the evidence there is any harm to any privacy at stake." 

But Judge Richard Scotti said there was no public interest in the autopsies, so there wasn't a reason to cause harm to victims families by invading private life.

"Their privacy didn't die when they died," Veronica said.  "They live on through their loved ones.  Their privacy is still an issue."

The initially released documents black-out the case numbers, names, ages, hometowns and racial characteristics of victims of the Oct. 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.  However, after the court's ruling, all of that has to be destroyed by each media outlet.

Records relating to the shooter, Stephen Paddock, weren't initially made public, but they were later released on Friday evening.

8 News NOW never published specific information from the autopsy reports.


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