OKLAHOMA - It’s been a battle in the courts for more than two years now.
Does the public have a right to see the videotape of OU star running back Joe Mixon punching a woman in the face?
Tuesday, the Okahoma Supreme Court said, yes, they do.
The assault happened back on July 25, 2014 at Pickleman’s Café in Norman.
Surveillance videos at the restaurant captured the whole event on camera.
The video was never released to the public but was viewed by some members of the media.
It shows Amelia Moliter shoving Mixon and Mixon responding by punching her in the face and then leaving the scene.
The Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters sued the city of Norman and the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office to get a copy of that tape, saying it should be allowed under Oklahoma’s Open Records Law.
And, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed and said “The Defendants must allow Association a copy of the surveillance video.”
At issue, was the definition of arrest.
The city of Norman said a warrant was never actually issued for Mixon’s arrest and Mixon voluntarily appeared in court to answer to the charge, making it an exception from the part of the Open Records Act that requires law enforcement agencies “to make available for public inspection facts concerning an arrest.”
“In this case, a warrant was never issued. And, a lot of those cases where people show up just to appear to answer for the charge, sometimes a warrant is issued, sometimes it isn’t,” said Norman Assistant City Attorney, Rick Knighton. “Joe Mixon was not treated any differently than all of the people that appear voluntarily to enter those pleas on a daily basis.”
“A judge ordered him to be processed. A judge ordered bail to be set. Our position was all that constitutes an arrest,” said David McCullough, attorney for the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters.
The supreme court agreed, saying in their decision “Mixon was arrested, and the video is a record of the facts leading up to the arrest.”
So, the law “requires the video be made available to the public.”
“Any time you have access to a record under the open record act, it’s a win for transparency,” McCullough said.
The city of Norman and the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office have 20 days to decide whether to ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court for a rehearing.
Most parties involved agree it likely be sometime after the first of the year when we see that video.
Mixon’s attorneys sent out this statement concerning the ruling:
“Joe was not a part of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters’ lawsuit. He never intervened to try to prevent the release of the surveillance video of the incident, which occurred more than two years ago. Many members of the media previously viewed the video, and have reported in great detail about what is shown.
Joe has apologized for the way he reacted that night. He has served the punishments handed down by the court and the university. If copies of the surveillance video are now to be released to the media, he hopes that this release will help put this matter to rest.”