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Texas Matters: Will Texas Close The 'Dead Suspect Loophole'?

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David Martin Davies
/
Texas Public Radio
Robert Dyer holds a photo of his son Graham, who died while in the custody of the Mesquite Police Department.

As the 86th Texas Legislature begins, many are wondering if this is the session when overdue repairs are made to the state's damaged public information act.  This includes a law dubbed the "Dead Suspect Loophole." 

We talk to the family of an 18-year-old who died while in custody of the Mesquite Police Department. They were told they could not gain access to details relating to Graham's death because of this controversial law. 

Graham Dyer died while in custody of the Mesquite Police Department.

TEXAS MATTERS EXTRA |  Is It Time To Close The 'Dead Suspect Loophole'?

The Dyer family was told they could not gain access to the public documents, videos, audio and other details relating to Graham's death because of the "Dead Suspect Loophole." 

The loophole is a maneuver that's been used repeatedly by Texas law enforcement agencies to deny family members and the public the details about cases when someone charged with a crime dies while in custody. Law enforcement is able to accurately claim it is not required to turn over the needed information because a criminal case is still pending, even though the suspect is dead.   

In 2017 Representative Joe Moody, D-El Paso, filed a bill to close that loophole which failed. Moody has filed a similar bill for the current Legislative session.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi