A Connecticut judge Tuesday ordered Newtown police to release the 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The recordings must be made public by Dec. 4, Superior Judge Eliot Prescott said in a 33-page decision
rejecting arguments by Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky that
the calls contain "information relative to child abuse" and may cause
emotional harm to survivors and victims' families.
The calls from
inside the school include two gunshots but no graphic sounds from
victims during the Dec. 14 carnage, which killed 20 first-graders and
six educators, sources have told the Danbury News Times.
Sedensky said he will review Prescott's decision to determine whether to appeal.
In September, the state's Freedom of Information Commission unanimously ruled that Newtown police must give the audio to the Associated Press.
wrote that he "reluctantly" listened to the recordings in which callers
described the events "in a harrowing and disturbing manner." But no
children were identified by name and no caller reported seeing any child
injured. The only wound described involved an educator shot in a foot,
Nonetheless, he said he was "deeply sensitive" to desires that the calls never be released.
"The public airing by media of some or all of the recordings that
will undoubtedly follow their release will likely be a searing reminder
of the horror and pain of that awful day," Prescott wrote.
But he acknowledged the "reality" that the recordings would eventually be made public.
delaying their release will not ultimately serve to ameliorate the pain
the recordings will likely cause those directly impacted by the
shootings," he said.
Releasing the recordings "will assist the
public in gauging the appropriateness of law enforcement's response to
calls for help from the public," he wrote. "In fact, public analysis of
the recordings may serve to vindicate and support the professionalism
and bravery of first responders ... who themselves have undoubtedly been
subject to emotional turmoil and pain in witnessing the scene at Sandy
Hook Elementary School."
The judge added that airing the recordings would let the public decide whether any procedural changes might be necessary.
their release "only serves to fuel speculation about and undermine
confidence in our law enforcement officials," Prescott wrote.