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Judge: 2 news organizations must return redacted autopsy report for fallen officer

Charleston Hartfield, 34, Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo: Facebook)

Two Las Vegas news organizations have been ordered to return a heavily redacted partial autopsy report of a Las Vegas police officer who was one of the 57 people killed on 1 October in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The Las Vegas Review Journal and The Associated Press must return all copies of the Clark County Coroner’s Office autopsy of former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Charleston Hartfield. No other news agencies were named in a motion filed by widow Veronica Hartfield.

In his ruling Friday, District Judge Richard Scotti said there was no public interest in releasing the autopsy information and said the court needed to be sensitive to the suffering the families of the victims are experiencing.

The returning of the autopsy in question might be difficult because no information that would specifically identify any of the 57 individuals is on the redacted information provided late last month by the coroner.

Review-Journal lawyer Maggie McLetchie said she planned to make an emergency appeal of Scott's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Hartfield’s lawyer, Tony Sgro, indicated that families of the other 56 victims plan to pursue the same action, hopefully eventually expanding the recall of all 57 partial autopsies to all news organizations.

Scotti said the autopsy for shooter Stephen Paddock was not covered by the ruling.

“Out of respect for the victims’ families, the RJ and the AP never asked for unredacted versions,” Review-Journal attorney Maggie McLetchie recently told the newspaper. “They asked for documents that protected all personal identifying information of the victims, and that’s exactly what the coroner’s office provided. The documents have already been released, and any order that the RJ, the AP or any other media entity be prohibited from reporting on those records is illegal and unconstitutional.”

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