Where Is Brock Turner's Mugshot? The Definition Of "Public Record" Can Be Murky
Update: On Monday afternoon, the mugshot of Brock Turner was released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department after much confusion over why it wasn't made public earlier. You can see it below.
Earlier: Though he has been convicted of three sexual assault felonies, the Palo Alto police have not released Brock Turner's mugshot. Instead, articles decrying his six-month sentence as lenient feature either a photo taken during court or one which resembles a senior high school yearbook picture. Why are these less-than-criminal snapshots the only ones available of a man who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman? In response to the inquiries, the Palo Alto Police released a statement:
That case did not occur in our jurisdiction, and did not involve the Palo Alto Police Department. The Stanford Department of Public Safety was the arresting agency. Just FYI, our release of information procedures (including when we release booking photos) are published here.
Bustle reached out to the Stanford Department of Public Safety's records unit and was told that the mugshot is not available at the moment, and that the department is currently reviewing whether or not to release it.
The details outlining whether law enforcement is obligated to release mugshots is blurry, to say the least. In December 2012, the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit committed to free speech, addressed the dilemma surrounding access to public records, citing public codes and Attorney General opinions from 2003. According to them, mugshots are exempt from public record if an investigation is ongoing, or if a description of the defendant could compromise his or her safety. However, the investigation ended after Turner was sentenced by Judge Aaron Persky on Thursday.
In the hours following Turner's sentencing, #NoMugShot has become popular on Twitter. Even after being directly addressed by the woman he was convicted of assaulting, the former Stanford student refused to admit he had sexually assaulted her. The photos of his smiling face don't do much to convince the public otherwise. The victim's letter, however, speaks volumes. She released it to BuzzFeed after reading it aloud during the defendant's sentence hearing:
You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.
As more people begin to question why the athlete's mugshot is unavailable, more pressure will likely be placed on the shoulders of law enforcement.