State agency still refusing to identify man charged in fatal shooting of bear
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public are police blotters and booking records, both of which were included among records available pursuant to FOIL as originally enacted in 1974.”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.