Tallahassee Democrat by Karl Etters
September 2, 2020
Hours after the name and photos of the man accused of a fatal shooting during a home invasion were released, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office pulled it back saying that the information was exempt.
But by Tuesday afternoon, Yuri Harris was well known in Tallahassee as the suspect who investigators say killed 25-year-old Parth Patel at a home on Ox Bow Drive last week.
Court records about the case were sealed at the request of LCSO, said Spokesman Shade McMillian, who issued a revised press release late Tuesday with Harris’ name and photo removed.
Records are often sealed in the initial part of investigations to keep wanted suspects from learning there are warrants for their arrest or to avoid tipping off other suspects, McMilian said.
“We do that to preserve the case when we don’t have a lot of information.”
As for his name and photo, McMillian cited public records law exemptions that signal that the 24-year-old suspect is a family member of a law enforcement official.
Pam Marsh, president of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, said the application of the exemption strays from the intent of the statute, which aims to protect law enforcement officers and their family members by taking their personal information out of public records.