Services scheduled for woman shot by deputy
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

Dec. 1, 2006 - Services have been scheduled next week for a Rowlett woman who was fatally shot by a Hopkins County officer earlier this week.

Memorial services for Terri Hill Minty, 35, of Rowlett, a former Sulphur Springs resident, have been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Murray-Orwosky Funeral Home Chapel. Burial is to follow at Restlawn Memorial Park.

Minty died Wednesday after being shot by a Hopkins County sheriff's officer. The fatal bullet was fired after she reportedly pointed a shotgun at three officers responding to a report of a burglary on County Road 2307.

The identity of the officer who fired the shot has yet to be released by the investigator leading the inquiry into the shooting.

Texas Ranger Phillip Kemp has said he is withholding the name of the deputy until his investigation has been completed. He must still wait for reports on the two weapons involved in the incident, as well as toxicology results from an autopsy on the deceased before making a final determination.

District Attorney Martin Braddy said the case would be presented to a grand jury after Ranger Kemp has completed his report. Braddy added that his office presents all shooting death cases to a grand jury for consideration.

The News-Telegram sent formal written requests for the release of the deputy's name Thursday  to Hopkins County Sheriff Butch Adams and the Texas Department of Public Safety's public information office. No response had been received by the News-Telegram as of press time Friday.

The Texas Public Information Act states that law enforcement agencies can withhold information dealing with the  detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime, but not in all instances. For example, release of the information would have to interfere with  the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime, according to Section 552.108 of the Public Information Act.

The agencies must respond to the News-Telegram's request within 10 days, either by supplying the information, stating the information does not exist, or explaining under what provisions of the law the information is being withheld.

Joe Larsen, a Houston attorney who works with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said Thursday the case would not seem to fall under a category that would create an exception to the release of the deputy's name.

"I don't see the basis for withholding the information," Larson said. "I think it needs to be released."

The Public Information Act, formerly known as the Texas Open Records Act, outlines what records are and are not open to public scrutiny, but the authors of the legislation made clear it was their intent that the law should not be interpreted conservatively.

"The people insist on remaining informed so that they may  retain control over the instruments they have created," the authors wrote in the opening paragraph of the act. "The  provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to  implement this policy."

In an opening letter in the "Public Information 2006 Handbook,"  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott affirms the belief in the public's right to freedom of information.

"The Texas Public Information Act says that the people 'do not give their public servants the  right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know,'" Abbott writes. "This ideal is kept alive through our open government laws."



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