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PR 16-49 Farinelli v. Pawtucket Police Department No Violation

The Complainant sought the "narratives for the last 10 death cases the PPD [Pawtucket Police Department] classified as 'suicide.'" It is beyond debate that the deceased individuals identified in the ten (10) requested reports have no privacy interest as "the right to privacy dies with the person." Clift v. Narragansett Television L.P., 688 A.2d 805, 814 (R.I. 1996). Nevertheless, the United States Supreme Court has considered this precise issue and has expressly determined that when balancing the privacy interest versus the public interest, the privacy interest of the decedent's family must be considered. See National Archives and Records Administration v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 171 (2004). The investigation reports regarding the last ten (10) suicides contain graphic and emotional content for a surviving family member and sometimes vividly describes the nature, method, and motivation for the suicide. The Police Department did not violate the APRA in not disclosing these reports because the reports implicated significant privacy interests of the surviving family members when balanced against the public interest in disclosure.

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