LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge Wednesday again declined an order sought by the city of Los Angeles, which maintains in a lawsuit against the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and journalist Ben Camacho that it inadvertently turned over a flash drive with images of undercover officers.
The city asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff for an order of immediate possession of the images acquired by Camacho, a reporter from Knock LA.
But in a second setback to the city in a month, the judge said its attorneys had "not demonstrated with admissible evidence the flash drive it produced to defendant Camacho contains photographs and/or images of LAPD officers serving in an undercover capacity," or that Camacho possessed photos exempt from release under the California Public Records Act.
"Moreover, it is not entirely clear how LAPD defines officers acting in an undercover capacity," the judge wrote.
In April, the judge rejected the city's motion for a temporary restraining order.
Camacho's lawyer, Dan Stormer, has called the city's lawsuit is a "thinly veiled attempt to silence Mr. Camacho and other journalists" who report on law enforcement.
"The real motives behind this lawsuit are to shield the Los Angeles Police Department from any measure of accountability and transparency," Stormer said
Last September, the city gave Camacho the official photographs, names and serial numbers for more than 9,000 LAPD officers to settle his California Public Records Act lawsuit and also presented him a letter saying that the records did not include any officers working undercover.
"Similar to other CPRA requests I've made in the past, I requested these records to advance my work, including documentary filmmaking and investigations into policing in Los Angeles," Camacho has said. "Access to police records brings transparency and awareness to the otherwise secret inner workings of the LAPD, an organization that receives billions of dollars from the public."
The Los Angeles Times previously published an article reporting that Camacho obtained the photographs and that they were published online by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. The city then filed the lawsuit against Camacho, which he alleges was done to suppress his First Amendment rights and curtail the public's access to public records.
Knock LA describes itself as a nonprofit community journalism project, originally conceived by the grassroots community organizing group Ground Game LA.