Matt Campbell, the Blue Hog Report blogger who’s sued for tapes of 911 calls in the death of the son of a Hot Springs circuit judge, just posted on his Facebook page that Judge Sam Bird had ruled in his favor.
Good news! Judge Bird agreed with me that the 911 calls were not investigatory in nature and should have been released when I requested them. He also found no substantial justification for the HSPD’s refusal to provide them in the first place
Special Prosecutor Scott Ellington, who’s investigating the death of 18-month-old Thomas Naramore, son of Circuit Judge Wade Naramore, had objected to release of 911 calls by Naramore and another person, saying they were part of the investigative file. Campbell argued that they were clearly public records whether they were to be used in the case or not.
Young Naramore died of heat-related causes, apparently after being left in a car for an extended period on a hot day. The family has said it was accidental. He died July 24. Ellington has not offered a specific reason for why it is taking so long to reach a decision in the case. The autopsy has been concluded. There has been some delay in the course of obtaining Naramore cell phone records from that day.
No word if the decision will be appealed, though the judge’s decision appears to have revealed most of what the tapes themselves will reveal. If not appealed, the order says the tapes are to be provided to Campbell no later than noon Monday. The judge also awarded Campbell reasonable attorney fees and expenses. UPDATE: Campbell said the city was moving to produce the tapes, meaning no appeal. When released, the contents proved as the judge described, interspersed with anguished cries of the father. Several TV stations and the Democrat-Gazette have posted the tape on-line. Campbell said he has no plans to do so. He was only interested in FOI compliance.
The judge reviewed the calls and concluded that there is no case on record that indicates the calls should be exempt, except that he ordered redaction of a telephone number of the second call, from Naramore’s father-in-law. The order revealed a little information.
The first call, according to the judge’s order, was by Wade Naramore to a 911 operator:
“…in which he requested that someone come to help immediately because his son had been left in a car and he thought the child was dead. He gave the address of his location. The call was then transferred to the City 911 operator to whom he then repeated the request for “immediate” help because his son had been left in a car and he though the child was dead, again providing the address of his location. Naramore did not answer follow-up questions of the operator, apparently disconnecting after advising the operator that he had to call his wife.
The second call to 911 was from a man who identified himself as the father of Wade Naramore’s wife. He stated the nature of the emergency, his telephone number and the location of the emergency. He said that his daughter had called his wife. He repeated the address of the emergency. He informed the operator that he was on the way there but would not be there when “they” arrived. He responded to the operator’s question about the status of the child (“Is he breathing?” and “Is he awake?”) by responding “I don’t know.” He said that the child was eighteen months old.