State attorney upset over release of citizen’s academy probe

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. State attorney Stephen Russell didn’t know Punta Gorda city officials would release a report regarding the Citizen’s Academy shooting on Wednesday.

That report shouldn’t have been made public, since an active criminal investigation into the shooting continues, the state attorney’s office said.

A letter dated March 3 was sent with the report clearly prohibiting the release of the report to the public. The letter stated the report was sent to the city of Punta Gorda “with the understanding that you will utilize it for the purpose of your administrative/internal review and investigation.”

The state attorney’s office issued a press release shortly after city officials released the report on Wednesday, saying it “provided the documents from one law enforcement agency to another for law enforcement purposes only.”

“We are aware that the city of Punta Gorda, through their hired public relations firm, Bulldog Strategy Group, has widely disseminated the case and substantial parts of the reports,” the press release said. “Regardless of this action, the state attorney’s office will endeavor to properly litigate these cases in the criminal justice system.”

The Bulldog Strategy Group saw the report was on the Clerk of Courts website. Since the state attorney’s office said the report was public record once it goes out, they went ahead and released it, according to a spokeswoman for the firm.

A spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office responded that the press release and the letter speak for themselves.

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