The parents of a 16-year-old killed by Carver County Sheriff’s deputies last year are suing the agency, saying county officials released 911 transcripts and other data deemed private by Minnesota law in the wake of the shooting.
Lawyers for the family of Archer Amorosi called on Attorney General Keith Ellison to investigate the case this week, alleging the Sheriff’s Office and county attorney used the private information of a juvenile to paint a “one-sided description of events,” protecting the officers while tarnishing Amorosi’s legacy.
“While this lawsuit cannot undo the damage to the family’s privacy and their child’s reputation, those responsible can be held accountable, and perhaps the next family whose child dies at the hand of law enforcement may be treated with more humanity,” said attorney Paul Dworak in a statement.
Peter Ivy, Carver County’s chief deputy attorney, said his office could not comment on pending litigation. Sheriff Jason Kamerud also declined to comment.
The deputies came to Amorosi’s Chanhassen home in July 2018 after his mother called 911 to report her son wanted to hurt himself. Archer charged the deputies with a handgun-style BB gun and hatchet, shouting: “Shoot! Shoot!” When Amorosi refused orders to drop the weapons, the deputies shot him twice.
Amorosi’s parents, Donald and Kara, have since publicly called for reforms to how police respond to mental health calls, saying their son needed psychiatric intervention, and the officers did not need to kill him. Carver County Attorney Mark Metz later determined the shooting was justified, saying “it was too late” for the officers to talk him down.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges the Sheriff’s Office violated data practice laws in the days and months that followed, including releasing the 911 transcript and emergency dispatch audio that should have been kept confidential.
Metz later released a 34-page news release that contained descriptions of and quotations from 911 calls and the deputies’ body camera video, also including data considered private under state law, according to the lawsuit.
“While Donald and Kara Amorosi were grieving the sudden and tragic loss of their son, Carver County Sheriff’s Office flooded the media with peace officer records of a child that are private and protected from public dissemination in Minnesota,” the lawsuit says. “The Sheriff’s Office released this private data on the eve of [Amorosi’s] funeral in a blatant attempt to exonerate the deputies that killed a child in desperate need of their help and compassion, not their bullets.”
At the request of general counsel for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the state Data Practices Office agreed to review the case. In an opinion dated April 2019, Alice Roberts-Davis, commissioner for the state’s Department of Administration, ruled that “some of the data may be protected” as private under sections of the law dealing with criminal investigative data and juveniles.