The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has declined to provide certified records pertaining to the Nizah Morris incident.
PGN requested the records in May, in order to gain more transparency and accountability in the Morris case.
But in a June 29 letter, the agency declined to comply with the paper’s request.
Morris was a transgender woman found with a fractured skull in 2002, shortly after a “courtesy ride” from Officer Elizabeth Skala. Her homicide remains unsolved.
Inexplicably, Skala initiated an unrelated vehicle stop while assigned to handle Morris, who was intoxicated. The vehicle stop contributed to a three-hour delay before Skala responded to Morris after her head injury.
After Skala’s delayed response, another officer wrote a police report that treated the entire incident as a “hospital case,” with no mention of the courtesy ride and subsequent crime.
Detectives didn’t begin investigating the incident until several days later, when Morris was already dead.
The D.A.’s vaguely worded June 29 letter appears to deny having partial dispatch records for Skala’s vehicle stop, other than those provided by PGN.
But PGN also seeks complete dispatch records for the vehicle stop, which the letter doesn’t clearly address.
PGN has until July 21 to file an appeal with the state Office of Open Records.
The state’s open-records law allows a requester to seek certified records from an agency. Certification verifies that an agency is providing accurate copies of records.
The open-records office recently posted guidance on its website to assist agencies in providing certified records, upon request.
Advocates for Morris want a state probe of her homicide, citing concerns of a local cover-up. But so far, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane hasn’t agreed to review the case.