Lariat receives subpoena in assault case

After nearly two weeks of being pressured to turn over video footage of an alleged on-campus assault of a campus safety officer, the Lariat was issued a subpoena Monday afternoon (May 5) for all notes, records and video related to the case.

The subpoena, hand delivered by Saddleback College Chief-of-Police Harry Parmer, was issued by District Attorney Autumn Major requiring materials to be mailed or hand delivered within five days following the service of the subpoena. It was dated May 1.

The document comes in the wake of a previously misdirected subpoena that was issued last Thursday (May 1) to Lariat staff member Bill Bridgeford. Bridgeford neither took the footage, was in possession of it, or knew the location of the video.

Bridgeford said he was told by District Attorney Johanna Kim that the subpoena would be quashed.

The original subpoena requested “any and all unedited/original videos” of the alleged incident between student Zach Chanoski and Officer Santos Garcia. The most recent document appears to go much farther.

A copy of the footage that was edited in part to remove profane language and racial slurs, was posted on the newspaper’s Web site April 9, the day of the arrest.

The incident between Chanoski and Garcia took place directly below the Lariat office while class was in session and spurred the interest of staff members. Reporters were sent to cover the event via notepad, camera and video camera to capture the breaking news event.

Editor-in-chief Cerise Ostrem said she received a call from Parmer, April 23, requesting the turnover of the footage. She cited the California Shield Law and denied the request.

The Shield Law defines a journalist as a news gatherer – separate to litigation. It was designed to protect a reporter’s unnamed sources, as well as other unpublished information in his possession.

Ostrem and the staff are retaining council via the Student Press Law Center.

The court hearing date for Chanoski is May 15 at 9 a.m. at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

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