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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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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.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2010/05/21/county-attorney-declines-request-for-investigation-report-on-timothy-q-johnsons-claims/

  • bhaas

    Last line above…..”I also asked for proof of Tom”

    What dies that mean?

  • bhaas

    “dies” should have been “does” Hate it when I do that.

  • bhaas

    Thanks Dan, for deleting the irrelevant line mentioned above.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    I can remember when I asked to see my home construction file that’s maintained in Spotsylvania County’s Dept of Code Compliance and the County withheld 35 pages with some od the same reasoning used here by the County Attorney. That’s why they call it Southern Fried FOIA.

  • Sam

    Dan, sounds to me like

    -they are stalling and I don’t believe them, and I am a public servant. I know better than this poppycock.

    -they are hiding something…more than just names.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    But SAM, does the FLS or Dan Telvock have the TIME to dig into this matter, or do we have to wait for him to announce hes been “stonewalled” again by County government?

  • Dan Telvock

    Sam,

    I have no idea if the county is hiding anything. I didn’t think the statements made at the meeting regarding this issue were helpful to closing it out. County Attorney Jacob Stroman and County Administrator Doug Barnes instead gave an impression of who this guy is instead of providing any details of what really happened that Sunday Feb, 7. If the Board of Supervisors is fine with that kind of information, then they are your voices.

    The county had no problem sending me Mr. Johnson’s criminal record from 20 years ago but the details of the investigation were not released, even with redacted names.

    As a reporter, I was hoping to get some actual investigation of what happened that day. For example, if the interviews of people provided information that differed greatly from Mr. Johnson’s claims, then tell me what that information was. My attempt was stonewalled at almost every corner. The only man who did talk to me was Chief Norman Brooks, and I appreciated his side of the incident.

    Two cars were involved in a wreck. Crews did have to return for Mr. Johnson.

    Do I have the time to look into this? Not really, to be honest. I’ve tried calling the person involved in the other wreck and that person might be the only person on earth without a message machine. I cannot find them. State Police were rude to me and told me this was obviously something I needed to talk to Fire and Rescue about, failing to even recognize that a TROOPER was at the scene and saw it all—so what did he see?

    Mr. Johnson says he is suing the county. If he does, his attorney can dedicate all his time on looking into this. But right now I am swamped with a voluminous report on the fire and rescue system that will lead to some corrective action to a fire and rescue system every county resident has been measuring since the Hill fire.

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