FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) On Tuesday, an opinion was issued indicating the City of Fort Wayne violated Access to Public Records Act (APRA) when it failed to release investigatory records and video footage of Mayor Tom Henry’s OWI arrest in October. Thursday, Mayor Henry issued a statement regarding the opinion from  Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt.

APRA is a state law that says records held by government agencies are “presumed to be
accessible for inspection or copying by any member of the public unless exempted by law.”

Mayor Henry’s statement:

I want to take this opportunity to update the public that my staff and I continue to review the recent opinion from the Indiana Public Access Counselor concerning the release of video footage from my recent OWI arrest. I will provide a formal response to the opinion and next steps at a media briefing at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 at my office at Citizens Square.

Mayor Tom Henry

Mayor Henry was booked into the Allen County Jail on Sunday, October 9 on one misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person and a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration equal to .15 percent or more, according to court records. Indiana’s legal limit is below .08 percent. His arrest came following a crash involving the car Henry was driving and another vehicle on Old Mill Road in Fort Wayne.

Court documents revealed the mayor admitted to officers that he had too many glasses of wine at a fundraiser.

A judge sentenced Henry in November following a plea agreement which required Mayor Henry to pay $3,166 in restitution. Mayor Henry also had to pay a $25 fine and nearly $800 in court costs and filing fees. The plea agreement also called for Mayor Henry to not drink and submit to random alcohol or drug tests for 365 days.

Since his arrest, media outlets, including WANE have requested the release of the police bodycam video of the arrest. The City of Fort Wayne has denied those requests.

Britt explained in the report that Fort Wayne could withhold investigatory records under APRA if the following circumstances were at play:

  • Any expectation of privacy on the part of a witness or victim
  • A legitimate public safety reason
  • Disclosure of information could jeopardize an investigation

However, Britt believes none of these factors applied in the situation.

Another reason Fort Wayne gave for not releasing records from the incident is that the only way to obtain the investigatory documents is through a subpoena, according to Britt.

When the mayor asked for and additional body cam purchase of $599,415 in February of 2021, he said “Open communication, accessibility, community relations, and trust are critical as our officers serve and protect residents and businesses each day.”

To date, the city has spent $999,073 total for 320 body cameras.

The headline in a previous version of the story indicated the response would come Friday, The mayor’s response is scheduled for next Friday, December 16, 2022.