Nashville Police Reverse Course on Releasing Shooter’s Manifesto, Citing Pending Litigation

Chase Smith
By Chase Smith
May 3, 2023US News
Nashville Police Reverse Course on Releasing Shooter’s Manifesto, Citing Pending Litigation
Officials have identified the suspect in Monday's Nashville Christian school shooting incident as 28-year-old Audrey Hale as Nashville Police released surveillance footage, seen above, on March 28, 2023. (Nashville Police Department)

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) has reversed course from a previous statement to The Epoch Times, when the agency said the so-called manifesto and writings of Nashville school shooter Audrey Hale would be released to the public soon.

The department cited the advice of legal counsel amid litigation filed this week for those same documents to be released.

The Epoch Times contacted MNPD on May 3, but officials would not comment, citing the pending litigation. The story regarding MNPD readying the documents for public release was published April 27.

On May 1, the Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) filed a lawsuit against MNPD over a previously denied public records request for the Hale documents to be released. The Epoch Times reached out to TFA regarding the new delay of the release of the documents.

“Officially, no comment in my role as an attorney,” John Harris III, an attorney with Schulman Leroy & Bennett and the executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, said in an email to The Epoch Times.

MNPD Statement

An Epoch Times reporter based outside of Tennessee had their request for the same records denied because they were not a Tennessee resident. Another Epoch Times reporter located within Tennessee also received a denial letter from MNPD’s Central Records Division on April 19, citing the investigation still being open.

Nashville Christian School shooter home
The home of the Nashville Christian School shooter sits quietly in its south Nashville neighborhood days after police agencies raided the home following the shooting, on March 31, 2023. (Chase Smith/The Epoch Times)

“Your request is denied based on the following grounds,” the denial letter from MNPD stated. “The following … law prohibits the release of the requested records: Open Cases—Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and Tennessean v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville.”

While MNPD declined to comment on the seeming change in direction from the previous interview with The Epoch Times, the department posted a brief statement on Twitter.

“Covenant investigation update: Due to pending litigation filed this week, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has been advised by counsel to hold in abeyance the release of records related to the shooting at The Covenant School pending orders or direction of the court,” MNPD posted on Twitter.

A further public records request for the autopsy of Audrey Hale by The Epoch Times was approved, pending the report being completed, with a timeline of “8–12 weeks from the date of death for case completion.”

TFA’s Lawsuit

TFA did not comment to The Epoch Times on the pending litigation, but Harris did release a comment to The Tennessean newspaper.

“The (MNPD’s) denial failed to identify any underlying criminal proceeding, or even potential defendant, such that the requested materials would be a ‘case’ under Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Proceeding,” Harris said, according to The Tennessean.

TFA filed suit on May 1, alongside former Hamilton County Sheriff James Hammond and Judicial Watch.

“In the lawsuit, the parties ask for a court order to force Metro to turn over certain records as specified in the Petition related to the Covenant School shooting that occurred in March 2023,” TFA wrote in a post on its website.

TFA notes it sought all records concerning the shooter’s manifesto, and separately sought disclosure of “all email communications of MNPD officials regarding the mass shooting committed by Audrey Elizabeth Hale on March 27, 2023, as well as MNPD officials’ text messages regarding the same, and copies of the ‘manifesto’ reported left by Audrey Elizabeth Hale in her vehicle.”

Mourners observe the makeshift memorial at The Covenant School in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn., on March 31, 2023, four days after six people were killed at the school in a shooting. (Chase Smith/The Epoch Times)

TFA said Hammond submitted another open records request for a wide range of documents including photographs, coroner information, toxicology reports, and video footage from the school. Hammond’s request also included many more topics such as investigative reports, MNPD communications regarding the manifesto, and MNPD communications between the FBI, Department of Justice, and Office of the District Attorney for Nashville regarding designating the “shooting at a Christian School by a self-identified transgender suspect as a ‘hate crime.'”

“Metro has denied all of these open records requests,” TFA said of Hammond’s records requests, according to the TFA website.

The reason given was Rule 16, according to TFA.

TFA added that the individual who was involved in the shooting at The Covenant School “was killed by law enforcement on the day of the event. Metro failed to identify any pending criminal investigation that could even possibly result in criminal charges.”

The lawsuit seeks a court order that MNPD disclose the requested records and pay TFA and others’ attorney fees.

“Many believe that public access to these records is important for a number of reasons including the interest in determining the actual basis for the homicides particularly in light of Governor Bill Lee’s call for a special legislative session to consider his gun control proposal that he has presented in the format of a ‘Red Flag’ law,” TFA wrote.

From The Epoch Times

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