State agency still re­fus­ing to iden­tify man charged in fa­tal shoot­ing of bear

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Diane Pineiro-Zucker dpzucker@free­manon­ DianeAtFree­man on Twit­ter

The state Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion con­tin­ues to refuse to re­lease the name of a Phoenicia man who was tick­eted last month for fa­tally shoot­ing a bear in the Shandaken ham­let.

The man was cited after the en­vi­ron­men­tal depart­ment and Shandaken po­lice were no­ti­fied of the shoot­ing about 11 p.m. Oct. 11 at 10 Main St.

Of­fi­cers from the town and state agen­cies found a black bear in a back­yard that had been fa­tally shot. The man who shot the bear told of­fi­cers he did so out of fear, but an in­ves­ti­ga­tion found no ev­i­dence to sup­port that claim, the state agency said at the time. And it de­clined to pro­vide his name.

The man was tick­eted un­der the state’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion Law for il­le­gally shoot­ing a bear and dis­charg­ing a firearm within 500 feet of nearby houses.

Nu­mer­ous re­quests by the Free­man for the man’s name in the days after the in­ci­dent were re­fused by the state en­vi­ron­men­tal agency. And this week, the agency re­jected a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Law (FOIL) re­quest from the Free­man, stat­ing: “Records com­piled for law-en­force­ment pur­poses, which, if dis­closed, would in­ter­fere with law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions or ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings,” are not sub­ject to re­lease.

In its let­ter deny­ing the Free­man’s re­quest, the agency fur­ther stated the in­for­ma­tion is “ex­empt from FOIL dis­clo­sure.”

In an email to the news­pa­per on Thurs­day, Robert Free­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the state Com­mit­tee on Open Gov­ern­ment, wrote: “First, I’ve sug­gested a thou­sand times that we don’t have se­cret ar­rests in this coun­try.” He then pro­vided an ad­vi­sory opin­ion that states: “His­tor­i­cally pub­lic are po­lice blot­ters and book­ing records, both of which were in­cluded among records avail­able pur­suant to FOIL as orig­i­nally en­acted in 1974.”

He also said that, fol­low­ing an ar­rest, “the ac­cused name, age, res­i­dence, em­ploy­ment, mar­i­tal sta­tus and sim­i­lar back­ground in­for­ma­tion” are a mat­ter of pub­lic record.

On Thurs­day, the Free­man filed an ap­peal of the en­vi­ron­men­tal depart­ment’s de­nial. Upon re­ceipt of the ap­peal, the depart­ment has 10 busi­ness days to re­spond.

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