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Oklahoma agency seeks to keep pursuit policy secret

September 25, 2018

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has requested a district judge empty the courtroom for testimony on the state Highway Patrol’s pursuit policy in a felony murder trial involving a state trooper’s death.

The department’s motion argues that disclosing the pursuit policy is dangerous because a future suspect could “reasonably deduce” tactical procedures, The Tulsa World reported .

The case involves D’Angelo Burgess, who is charged with murder in Lt. Heath Meyer’s July 2017 death. Highway Patrol officers were pursuing Burgess after he fled a traffic stop. The suspect was able to pass a police roadblock, but two pursuing troopers’ cruisers collided. One vehicle veered off and struck Meyer, who was attempting to remove stop sticks to allow the troopers to pass, according to Highway Patrol documents. Meyer died 10 days after the crash.

Burgess’ defense attorneys filed a motion last month to compel the agency to provide the pursuit policy as part of the evidence discovery process.

A state open records law exemption for the Public Safety department allows for items of “tactical nature” to be kept secret. The department’s motion seeks to file the policy under seal. It would only be accessible to personnel directly involved with the case.

″(Any) time such material is shown, read or described in open court, whether during examination, argument, or otherwise, the court room will be cleared so no person other than the judge, court personnel, attorneys, defendant, witness testifying, and jurors are present,” the request said.

A court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 1.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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