Video Release of Harbor Police DUI Tarmac Arrest Possible Through California Public Records Act

Release is good example of how public record laws allow public access to government information

In June, the agency managing the day-to-day operations of the San Diego International Airport provided NBC 7 Investigates with surveillance video of the DUI arrest of a drunk ASIG jet fuel driver, under the California Public Records Act.

The law allows the public to request and obtain access to government information, including emails, video, photographs and data. An analysis of about 130 requests made by NBC 7 Investigates in the last year and a half found agencies often deny requests for video, including surveillance video, body camera video and dash-cam video.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority responded to NBC 7 Investigates request promptly, providing the video. By properly responding to the request, NBC 7 Investigates was able to inform the public about an incident in which a 56-year-old jet fuel driver was arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit to drive a vehicle.

NBC 7 Investigates is highlighting the Airport Authority’s responsiveness to our request and transparency as a part of Sunshine Week, an annual campaign bringing attention to federal and local access issues.

In the incident, a Harbor Police report described the ASIG jet fuel driver, James Stewart, as stumbling significantly and falling down while trying to fuel a plane. In June 2015, Stewart pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge.

Click here to see the video and original investigation.

After the story aired, NBC 7 Investigates received a series of emails from an individual identifying himself as a former employee of ASIG. The emails alleged ASIG employees were showing up to work with the smell of alcohol on their breath and the tanker trucks carrying the jet fuel were poorly maintained.

The allegations were forwarded to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. An Cal/OSHA investigation found those allegations to be unfounded.

This is one of a series of posts from NBC 7 Investigates highlighting the public’s right of access to information. The stories were published to coordinate with Sunshine Week, an annual campaign bringing attention to federal and local access issues. In California, the public is able to request information from government agencies, offices and officials through the California Public Records Act. For more information on how to request information click here.

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