Mayor asks federal court to decide if SBPD tapes can be released - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Mayor asks federal court to decide if SBPD tapes can be released

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The now infamous police tapes have dominated local politics for months.  Do they contain racial remarks?  Should South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg release them?

Now the mayor is passing the decision on whether to release the tapes off to Federal Court.  He's sending a request for what's called a "Declaratory Judgment." 

"We do not want to be unresponsive to the council, but I also took an oath to comply with all laws," Buttigieg says.

By now you know the history.  The FBI investigated the SBPD for recording internal phone calls.  Nothing criminal came of it, but Buttigieg demoted Chief Darryl Boykins, saying he didn't follow protocol.

That lead to an uproar on the council and a subpoena for the tapes to be released.  All of that happened amid widespread speculation that someone on the tapes is heard making racial   remarks.  

"For the record I really, really, hate racism," the mayor says.  "I care about this as much as anybody, but the other thing is everyday that we're obsessing over this issue, does not tear down one abandoned house, does not create one job." 

Several council members tell FOX 28 they believe the mayor is playing games.  "Well obviously there's some frustration on my end about the way he's handling this," says Councilman Henry Davis, Jr.  

Davis says he feels blind sided by the mayor's latest move.  "I don't think he's ever going to be comfortable with what's getting ready to happen, however he needs to man up and allow it to happen.  I think he's continuing to block it because he wants to delay it for whatever political reason," Davis says.   

But the mayor says it's not a political move, it's a legal one.  He says the city and the council could be in legal jeopardy if he releases the tapes without getting the thumbs up from a Federal Court first.  

The mayor says he believes the actual tapes are back in the custody of the city administration.

You'll remember, the administration sent them off the Justice Department.  The Justice Department didn't respond in writing, but just this week it sent back a box.  The mayor says his administration put that box in a safety deposit box.  He says he did not open it.  He still says nobody in his office has ever listened to the tapes.

The council's attorney says he will be meeting with council members Friday to decide what to do in response to the mayor's move to seek a declaratory judgement.  The attorney believes the mayor still has an obligation to respond to the actual subpoena.

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