One month after a beloved Los Angeles news anchor was found dead in a hotel room, authorities have released little new information surrounding the circumstances of his death and have blocked at least one attempt to obtain records related to the incident.
Last week, The Desk filed a public records request with the Glendale Police Department seeking certain records related to the death of KTLA-TV (Channel 5) anchor Chris Burrous, who was found unresponsive at a Days Inn hotel by first responders in late December.
The request sought recordings of emergency phone calls related to the incident, including one police said was made by a friend who was with Burrous at the hotel. The request was filed with Glendale police because the hotel was located within their law enforcement jurisdiction.
Audio recordings of 9-1-1 and other emergency calls related to newsworthy matters are routinely released by police and other city officials, and their disclosure is required when a request is filed under the California Public Records Act. But less than 24 hours after The Desk filed its request, Glendale Police Department Spokesperson Sgt. Dan Suttles denied it, saying the agency was allowed to withhold the recordings under certain exemptions of California’s public records law.
Those exemptions cited by Suttles relate to records compiled for police investigations. Under the law, those records are required to be released unless police are using them as part of an open and ongoing investigation.
Suttles did not respond to a follow-up email from The Desk asking if Glendale police had an active criminal investigation into Burrous’ death.
Last month, Suttles told local news reporters that Burrous was believed to have died from a suspected overdose. Since then, officials have refused to answer questions about the anchor’s death even after he was laid to rest in a funeral ceremony earlier this month on what would have been his 44th birthday.
Disclosure: The author of this post was a personal friend of Burrous.