Hard Knox Wire, other media sue for video

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Anthony Thompson Jr.

Hard Knox Wire has joined a coalition of Knoxville’s newspapers, TV stations and Web sites who are going to court for the release of police bodycam videos that show the fatal shooting of a student at Austin-East Magnet High School.

The historic effort marks the first time that so many of Knoxville’s news organizations have joined together in pursuit of a single goal. The group is represented by Richard “Rick” Hollow, longtime attorney for the Tennessee Press Association and the state’s leading expert on media and public records laws.

Hollow filed a motion to intervene today in a Knox County Criminal Court case seeking access to bodycam footage of the fatal April 12 encounter between Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, and four Knoxville Police Department officers in a restroom at Austin-East. 

In the motion, Hollow wrote the coalition’s members “are seeking to enter this lawsuit to support the position of the City of Knoxville and its Mayor in the interests of transparency and the accountability of the government to the people that it serves.  

“Full disclosure has been requested by a broad range of individuals, some of whom were involved in the incidents giving rise to this controversy.  It is the belief of the Knoxville media coalition that truth, accountability and transparency promote understanding and that non-disclosure fosters the potential for misunderstanding and misinterpretation.  The overriding principle in our American form of government is the accountability of the government to the people because the government is created by the people to serve the people.”

Attorney Richard Hollow

“The news media has a moral obligation to work for transparency in government,” said Hard Knox Wire Publisher Jennifer Stambaugh. “The potentially irreparable harm being done to our community by refusing to release the video is a perfect example of why that moral responsibility exists.”

More information on the lawsuit and other developments in this story tomorrow in Hard Knox Wire. 

Published on April 20, 2021.