Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
County Attorney declines request for investigation report on Timothy Q. Johnson’s claims
County Attorney Jacob Stroman declined to release the internal investigation that the Board of Supervisors asked County Administrator Doug Barnes to conduct after Timothy Q. Johnson made allegations during a meeting that fire and rescue volunteers on Sunday Feb. 7 failed to provide care to him in a car wreck, but helped a vehicle with white people in it.
A statement was read at last week’s meeting that Mr. Johnson’s story did not match with third-party stories.
I called State Police, who responded to this call and I asked to speak to the officer who handled the call. The State Police sergeant who took the call asked me why I wanted to talk to the trooper. I said I wanted to talk to him because a man claimed fire and rescue officials failed to provide him care but they provided care to a vehicle with white people in it. The guy feels like he was discriminated against, I told the sergeant, so I wanted to see what the trooper says about the incident.
The sergeant then became defensive and told me that it sounds like I need to talk to fire and rescue officials, not his people. I tried to explain to him that his trooper handled the call and that a patient is making allegations of discrimination, so it seemed obvious that I needed to call State Police. The sergeant couldn’t understand why I, a reporter, would be calling him to speak to the trooper who responded to this wreck. That is no exaggeration of his response to me on the phone.
The county had an option of releasing the investigation and redacting names.
I don’t need to know who the firefighters are but it would be good for the public to know what the accused had to say. Redacting names does no harm and it gets the details of the investigation to the public.
Chalk this one up as a loss to open government.
He withheld a total of 5 pages under Section 2.2-3705.1 (2) and (3) which means he is withholding written legal advice and records that he can withhold as attorney-client privilege.
(3) is legal memos and other work product compiled specifically for use in litigation or for use in an active administrative investigation concerning a matter that is properly the subject of a closed meeting under 2.2-3711.