Silver Chips Online

Ethics come before rights

Superior court judge wrong to release 911 calls from the Sandy Hook shootings before one year anniversary

By Birhan Alemayehu, Staff Writer
January 2, 2014
It is not hard to forget the heartbreak that was felt around the country on Dec 14, 2012. We all know how parents hugged their children tighter in the days following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I still remember walking into my house that day, seeing how red my parents’ eyes were, how my dad got up to hug me really tightly with tears flowing down his face and did the same thing to my sister, a third grader at the time. The emotional wounds are still fresh in our minds, but now the wounds have been opened again with the release of the 911 calls.

The superior court judge was wrong to release 911 calls from the Sandy Hook shootings  before the one year anniversary. Courtesy of The Business Insider
The superior court judge was wrong to release 911 calls from the Sandy Hook shootings before the one year anniversary.
It has been a year since Adam Lanza shot his way into an elementary school and took the lives of 26 people, 20 of whom were children between the ages of six and seven. Under the decision of Judge Eliot Prescott, on Dec 4. 2013, 10 days shy of the one year anniversary, 911 calls from that tragic day were released. The shooting sparked debates about tighter gun control laws, school safety and whether or not mentally unstable people in the country are receiving the attention they need.

Those phone calls should not have been released, not now at least. Many are curious about what happened in the hallways of Sandy Hook at those moments, but at the same time do not want to revisit those horrible memories. There was too much suffering that had happened and these calls just reopen wounds at a time when they should be healing. A police officer who was a first responder to the shooting was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) after the shooting. The police officer was put on leave due to the PTSD, yet he was facing termination from the police department. The police officer, officer Thomas Bean, claimed that he wanted to “cut” himself after the shooting, just so he could feel something, and that he started smoking and drinking. Imagine how traumatic it will be for Bean if he hears the phone calls. Prescott, according to an article on CNN ordered for the release of the 911 calls due to fear that not releasing them "would fuel speculation about and undermine confidence in our law enforcement officials."

Connecticut has a Freedom of Information Act which keeps the 911 calls from being sealed from the public. A state attorney argued saying that the calls should not be released, but his argument was withheld by a superior judge who stated that, under the state’s law, the 911 calls need to be released because they are public records and not private to anyone.

So maybe, the public does have a right to know what happened, but that still does not help the fact that these calls can cause emotional trauma all over again which is something that junior Elsy Cordova agrees with. "I think that the country was going through a lot emotionally at that time, and releasing these calls after a long time of healing just takes us back to the shock and heartbreak."

Freshman Hana Bekele disagrees with keeping the 911 calls private. "What happened was devastating, but the public has the right to know what happened and if police officers did their best."

Twenty six families were changed that day. Mothers, daughters, sisters, sons and brothers did not make it home. These families, have to go through every single day without one family member. They deserve a peace of mind, comforting hugs and prayers, not phone calls that depict the last minutes of their loved ones. Ethics needs to be considered in this. We have the right to hear the phone calls, but ethically it just should not happen. Especially not ten days before the anniversary of the shooting when victims' families are experiencing heartbreak knowing that another holiday will pass without their loved ones.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/12440