Judge to Determine If Mississippi School Video Footage is Public Record

GREENWOOD, Miss. – A Leflore County Chancery Court judge will decide whether security footage capturing an altercation between a Greenwood High School student and a campus police officer is public record.

Senior James Marshall, 18, is accusing Casey Wiggins, a Greenwood police officer assigned to work security at the school, of violating his civil rights when the latter allegedly slammed Marshall into a wall, knocked him to the ground and placed a gun against his head twice. The incident reportedly took place in the school’s main hall on Dec. 6.

Richard Oakes, attorney for the Greenwood School District, filed a five-page lawsuit asking the judge to determine whether the district was legally obligated to hand the footage over to the student’s attorney and The Greenwood Commonwealth , a local newspaper. Both the attorney and the paper independently requested a copy of the footage.

Marshall’s attorney, who is planning to file a federal lawsuit against both the school district and the city of Greenwood, says the filing is merely a stalling tactic and indicates the district fears what the footage may show.

According to Oakes, the school district is only trying to protect itself against liability by following the correct protocols for release of the footage. If the district releases the footage but later discovers it is not public record, it could face potential liability from other students who were not involved in the altercation but were nonetheless captured by the surveillance camera. If the district doesn’t release it and later discovers that it is public record, then it faces liability for attorney’s fees to the entities requesting the record.

Under state law, the district can be fined $100 per day for not complying with Marshall’s attorney to release the footage, assuming the footage is public record.

A probable cause hearing on the alleged incident will likely occur this month.

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