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Council looks at next steps in South Bend police tapes case

South Bend, Ind.—

South Bend’s Common Council is looking at next steps following federal courts recent action on its suit against the city to release the infamous police tapes to the public.

This case has been tied up in courts for five years, but the council believes a resolution will come soon.

“Whether it is illegal, unethical or just inappropriate conduct, the Indiana statute gives the common council the right to investigate that,” said council attorney Bob Palmer.

Palmer says that’s what elected officials in this council have been trying to do for years after learning rumors of city officers using racist rhetoric were captured on several recordings.

It’s also why council members met behind closed doors Monday to make sure it gets done.

“It gave the council as a whole enough information for them to make individual decisions as to where they want to see this case go,” said Palmer.

The case is going back to state courts, the same place this case started back in 2012.

In May of that year, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced he would not release any of the recorded conversations captured during the scandal as he thought it would violate the federal Wiretap Act.

In August, the council served the mayor’s office with a subpoena in order to get state courts to determine the legality.

That same month, the mayor filed a petition asking federal courts to pick up the case.

In January 2015, a federal judge ruled only one of five audio tapes was recorded legally.

Last Wednesday, a circuit court of appeals ruled the case should be in state courts and vacated all previous rulings.

“We’re happy to be back where we started the case, in state court,” said Palmer.

Palmer says the council is looking to file a motion to get back in front of a state judge fairly soon.

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