Topeka Police Department officers said they found Zoey Felix «in good spirits and apparently healthy» about a month before she was raped and murdered, but the city will not release body camera video from that welfare check.
City Attorney Amanda Stanley said the video was a criminal investigation record and its release could interfere with a criminal proceeding.
Police were called to the home in the 2200 block of SE Market on Sept. 5 for a welfare check call. That had been Zoey’s house, but when officers arrived, they were told she no longer lived there because the house had no electricity.
«Officers then met with the child who was in good spirits and appeared healthy and released him into the care of his parents, per the custody agreement,» the city previously said. «The officers then left the scene.»
While police initially said they had filed a report with the Kansas Department for Children and Families, they did not actually file the report before Zoey died on October 2.
The Topeka Capital-Journal filed a Kansas Open Records Act request for body camera and dash camera video from that September call. The city denied it, citing exceptions due to criminal investigation history.
«In this case, the release of these images has the potential to interfere with a criminal proceeding,» Stanley wrote in the denial letter. «As he wrote in his October 30, 2023 article, the defense in this case has filed several motions requesting greater procedural safeguards. Additionally, Kansas prosecutors are subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct.»
Among the provisions of the public records law he cited were KSA 45-254, which states that all police vehicle or body camera videos are considered criminal investigation records, and KSA 45-221(a)(10) (B), which specifies that such records do not have to be disclosed unless a court determines certain things, including that disclosure would not interfere with any potential police action, criminal investigation, or prosecution.
Stanley referenced the capital murder and child rape prosecution of Mickel Cherry, a homeless man known to Zoey who was arrested and charged with her death.
When The Capital-Journal requested video footage that excludes any part of Cherry’s appearance, Stanley said «it’s not possible.»
While District Attorney Mike Kagay has not announced whether he will seek the death penalty, Cherry has public defenders from the Kansas Death Penalty Advocacy Unit. Those lawyers have filed a series of motions asking for stricter procedural standards, including a gag order for police and prosecutors, as well as a ban on cameras in the courtroom. They already managed to seal the probable cause affidavit detailing why police believe Cherry killed Zoey.
“While these rules clearly govern statements made by the agency or attorneys involved,” Stanley said of the Rules of Professional Conduct, “it is also the City’s duty to protect against the disclosure of any unnecessary information when a prosecution is or is not likely penal». earring. This is especially important to avoid biasing the jury in a high-profile case. «The public’s demand for information does not outweigh the victim’s right to justice.»