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Norman police are criticized for not releasing Joe Mixon video

NORMAN — Norman police were being widely criticized Wednesday for their decision to show — but not release to the public — the surveillance video that led to a misdemeanor charge against suspended Sooner running back Joe Mixon.

“Bogus,” state Sen. David Holt said of the police decision.

Police will show the video Thursday morning to reporters who requested it under the Open Records Act. “The department will not permit any cameras or other image recording devices during the viewing,” police Capt. Tom Easley said.

Police do not plan to release the video until Nov. 1 when a change in the openness law goes into effect.

Police are not releasing the video on the advice of a municipal attorney who contends the law requires police only to make arrest records available for public inspection.

The change in the law specifically requires law enforcement agencies to copy arrest records, starting Nov. 1.

Holt, R-Bethany, was the Senate author of the 2014 bill amending the Open Records Act. He said the part adding "copying" only codified the existing state of the law established by attorney general opinions.

“We’re not really changing the function of the law. We’re just changing what the statute says to conform to reality,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it would be sort of misused to take away a right that arguably the media already has, at least for two months.”

Holt also said, “There’s nothing that keeps them from giving you the video. ... Why not go ahead and follow ... the spirit of the law that’s been passed and let you have the video instead of forcing you to wait until Nov. 1 due to some bogus argument?”

Mixon, 18, was charged in August with acts resulting in gross injury after prosecutors watched surveillance video from a Norman restaurant of his altercation with a woman.

He has been suspended from the football team for the season.

Police reported in a court affidavit that the video shows the victim slapping Mixon after he lunged at her. Police reported the video then shows Mixon striking the woman in the face “with a closed right fist, knocking her into a table top and then to the ground where she laid motionless.”

Police reported the woman, Amelia Rae Molitor, suffered a fractured jaw, fractured cheek bone, fractured sinus and fractured orbital bone after being punched July 25 at Pickleman's Gourmet Cafe just north of the campus.

The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World are among the media requesting the video.

“Under the Open Records Act, we seek access to public documents on a routine basis,” said Kelly Dyer Fry, editor of The Oklahoman. “We have no special privilege to do so; all citizens have the same right to access open records. Allowing limited access to this footage is discriminatory and violates open records law.”

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Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›