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City Refuses to Release Names of Personnel that Identified Petersen

The City of Alameda has refused a public records request for the names of public safety personnel that identified Stephen Petersen as an arson suspect. (File photo)

The City of Alameda has refused a public records request for the names of public safety personnel that identified Stephen Petersen as an arson suspect. (File photo)

The City of Alameda has refused a public records request from Action Alameda News for the name of the police officer and firefighter that identified Stephen Petersen as a suspect in the arson fires in the wee hours of Sunday, September 28th.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Petersen last week, shifting blame for all of the fires to Andrew Resto Gutierrez, 22.

On November 3rd, Action Alameda News submitted a public records request to the City of Alameda, writing, “The Alamedan reported that an Alameda PD Sgt. and an Alameda FD firefighter identified Petersen as someone that had been at the scenes of two fires in the hours of Sept. 28th. Yet, prosecutors dropped charges, and other outlets reported that Petersen was wearing black when the suspect identified was said to be wearing white. Given the totality of circumstances, the identities of the firefighter and police sgt. who identified Petersen is a matter of public interest.

Alan Cohen, from the city attorney’s office of the City of Alameda, responded today, declining to provide the requested information, writing, “Your email request to Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen was forwarded to my office for a response. The information you seek is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(f) and Government Code Section 6255 because it would endanger the successful completion of an ongoing investigation. Information about the criminal prosecution should be sought from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me. “

1 comment to City Refuses to Release Names of Personnel that Identified Petersen

  • barbara

    It is an ongoing investigation, but the names would have had to have been provided to Mr. Petersen and/or his attorney as a matter of substantive due process see Brady v. Maryland.

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