Stanley: Indy and Gazette fight for release of deputy autopsy report

Colorado Springs Independent: El Paso County Coroner Robert Bux is again trying to prevent the release of records that the law clearly permits the people to see and review — continuing his campaign against government transparency even while he is in his final months in office.

On July 12, Bux asked a court to allow him to block the release of the autopsy reports of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick and auto theft suspect Manuel Zetina, killed in a police shootout on Feb. 5.

Autopsy reports are public records for a reason: They often reveal problems that would be ignored if they were kept secret.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill instigated by Bux that would have blocked all children’s autopsy reports from public view. In his veto, the governor noted transparency in these records has made our state a better and safer place. Without public autopsy records, for instance, there never would have been an investigative series by The Denver Post and 9News detailing oversights by government caseworkers who “failed” abused kids “to death.” That series led to reforms that saved other kids’ lives.

Now Bux wants to block the public from knowing what really happened to Flick and Zetina, following requests for the public records by the Independent and the Gazette. Flick was an officer of the law who was working for the public at the time of his death. Zetina was shot by police officers. The people should be suspicious of — if not outraged by — such a move, especially given that the Indy’s reporting has uncovered serious questions about how the police operation that led to Flick’s and Zetina’s deaths was handled.

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