2005-2006: Use of force             

        Click on the State of Texas and search for city and county information!

 

In 2004, in an effort to increase awareness and use of public information laws,

the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas joined

journalism department at universities across the state to launch the

Light of Day project. Each year, students at participating schools work on stories concerning the same agreed-upon theme.

This year's theme is use of force. Students are investigating and

requesting information from 254 Texas counties and 310 Texas cities.

Cities wtih populations under 5,000 people and CDP's have been eliminated from the search.

 

Students have written letters to county sheriffs and city police chiefs requesting information under the Texas Public Information Act. They have requested copies of use of force documentation regarding weapons, including tasers, stun guns or bean bag shotguns since January 1, 2000. Students have also requested incident reports, custodial death reports and copies of use of force policies.

FOIFT provides legal and logistical support, as the students and faculty employ state and federal freedom of information laws. FOIFT is working with the participating schools helping to organize materials, scan information and make necessary follow-ups with official agencies regarding FOI requests. The University of North Texas is working in conjunction with FOIFT, providing web support and server space. Professor Dan Malone (UNT) is coordinating this year's project.

    

To find out more information about the Light of Day Project or to make a donation please contact FOIFT.

Click here to access the Texas Administrative Code mandating charges for public information.

Click here to access the Texas Public Information Act.

   Awards and Results

 

    Student Articles

Shock

Physically, all I have left are slight red marks on my hip and ankle from where the wire leads were positioned, annoying me like a spot rubbed raw by a too-tight shoe. They are the palest mementos of three seconds of crippling agony — pain so vivid it will be forever etched in my memory. (read more)

A Stunning Toll

Sitting in the back of a police cruiser, his green eyes burning and massive body convulsing, Barney Lee Green was certain that he was about to die. (read  more)

Tracking the Taser story
To examine how Tasers and other “non-lethal” weapons are being used by law enforcement official in Texas, journalism students around the state requested records on weapons use and prisoner deaths from hundreds of Texas law enforcement agencies. (read more)

Record Shock
Sheriffs are key law enforcement officers in Texas, charged with enforcing state laws from the Panhandle to the coast. But a student journalist effort supported by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas has found at least 74 sheriffs who appear to be violating the state’s public information law–– and have been doing so for six months or more, despite repeated attempts to get them to follow it. (read more)


He Fought the Law, and the Law Waffled
Remember Trevor Goodchild, the young Austin musician who was tasered repeatedly last February for the heinous crime of telling a cop he didn’t think he could be arrested for playing his guitar on the street? (“A Stunning Toll,” March 8, 2006)?

Well, last week, he dutifully showed up — clean-shaven and in his hand-me-down banker suit — in a Travis County courtroom to fight his resisting arrest charge. But something was missing — the prosecution. On the prosecution’s motion, the judge dismissed the case — although the county attorney’s office has another 11 months or so, until the statute of limitations runs, to refile if it so desires. (read more)

Cold Hearted?
To the editor: In reference to the “Stunning Toll” article in the March 8, 2006, Fort Worth Weekly, I was wondering — is it just me or is it true that in each of these cases, where the so-called victims of police brutality have been tasered, the suspects seem like jackasses? Ex-con Barney Green, who had prior convictions for drug possession and aggravated assault, gets pulled over in a traffic stop. It looks like the guy is stuffing drugs down his throat. Mr. Green refuses to stop chewing and spit out whatever is in his mouth. In fact he refused to follow any of the officers’ directions. So he gets pepper-sprayed and finally stunned by a Taser. Wow. What a surprise. I bet he died of a heart attack or a drug overdose after he was cuffed and stuffed into the back of the squad car. (read more)

Students Seek Truth

Journalism students from universities across the state, including UNT, have joined forces in a project sponsored by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas to learn how to use the state’s public information laws. (read more)

A Stunning Disclosure
To the editor: The Weekly’s, “A Stunning Toll” (March 8, 2006) was a literal “jolt” to read.

As the article shows, the police are utilizing these Tasers as their personal fashion accessory to use indiscriminately, an equal-opportunity equalizer. Many people in law enforcement are high-adrenaline type personalities, and the badge, gun, and power serve as the catalyst for seeking employment in these agencies. Now, with Tasers as the new toy in their arsenal, police departments will find it even easier to recruit potential new officers to “protect and serve.” (read more)

January 25, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

 

 

 

March 8, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

 

March 8, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

 

 

March 15, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

 

 

 

March 29, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

 

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2006, North Texas Daily

 

 

April 5, 2006, Ft. Worth Weekly

    

    Contact FOIFT