US Marijuana Party

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dead man's family says Sunrise broke law on records

By Brian Haas, FL

The family of a 23-year-old man killed by the Sunrise Police Department's SWAT team filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying the city broke public records laws by not turning over documents related to his death.

Anthony Diotaiuto, 23, was shot and killed Aug. 5 in his Sunrise home during a SWAT drug raid. Diotaiuto's mother, Marlene Whittier, hired attorneys from the law firm Conrad & Scherer to investigate her son's death.

Attorney William Scherer III wrote in Tuesday's lawsuit that the city of Sunrise illegally denied parts of the family's first public records requests and ignored three subsequent requests.

Attorneys for the family sought police department documents ranging from SWAT policies and training manuals to tactical notes and documents on the raid itself.

City attorneys responded that most of the items requested were not public because the information is part of a current investigation or it would reveal police secrets, according to the lawsuit.

The Broward State Attorney's Office continues to investigate whether Diotaiuto's death was justifiable. Investigative documents on the shooting are not yet public.

Police have said that they thought Diotaiuto was selling drugs in his home and used the SWAT team to execute a search warrant because he had a concealed weapon permit. During the raid, Diotaiuto was shot 10 times and killed by the SWAT team.

There have been discrepancies in the police department's account of the incident, including whether Diotaiuto pointed a gun at the SWAT team, and the amount of marijuana found at the home.

A neighbor also disputed whether SWAT members knocked before raiding the home, as police say.


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