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Media outlets sue Orlando for access to records of Pulse shooting calls

A memorial at Pulse nightclub. The city of Orlando has refused to release transcripts of 911 calls made during the shooting.
A memorial at Pulse nightclub. The city of Orlando has refused to release transcripts of 911 calls made during the shooting.
Published Jun. 24, 2016

A consortium of 22 media organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city of Orlando over its refusal to release full transcripts of the 911 calls made the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

More than a week after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, in which 49 people were killed, most of what was recorded in the calls that both the shooter and club patrons made the morning of June 12 is still shielded from public view.

The suit was filed in Orange County Circuit Court by attorneys representing the Associated Press, the Florida Press Association, the Orlando Sentinel, the New York Times and the Washington Post among others. It argues that the city should release the full record of four 911 calls the shooter made during a three-hour standoff with police before he was killed along with more than 600 calls made by others.

"There is a strong public interest in fully evaluating how first responders and police reacted during the most critical phases of this incredible tragedy," the complaint read.

At the same time the suit was filed, the city filed its own lawsuit against the Associated Press, asking a judge to rule on whether public records exemptions apply to recordings made the day of the shooting. The city contended that the recordings are exempt from public records laws because they depict the killing of a person, and they are part of an ongoing investigation. The FBI has repeatedly instructed city officials not to release the recordings, the city's lawsuit said.

The legal actions come four days after federal officials, under pressure from Congress and the media, released a transcript of one of the calls the shooter made in which he pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.

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