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Oakland County prosecutor wants to stop release of Oxford High School shooting evidence in civil suit

April Van Buren
Michigan Radio
Students, parents and community members marched in Oxford on Saturday, many in orange Oxford strong T-shirts or blue ones that said March For Our Lives. Organizers say nearly six hundred people showed up to the demonstration on June 11, 2022.

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office wants to stop the release of all Oxford High shooting evidence held by the county sheriff according to a Wednesday news release from Prosecutor Karen McDonald's office.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot ordered the evidence to be released in one of the civil suits filed against Oxford Community School District officials. That includes surveillance footage.

The prosecutor’s office said the release could impact criminal trials against the shooter and his parents. The office said it’s also concerned releasing evidence could give the shooter “the notoriety he sought.”

Families of two students killed in the shooting – Tate Myer and Justin Shilling – and three other students who survived sought the evidence as part of the civil suit.

Attorney Ven Johnson is representing the families and said it’s not the prosecutor’s call.

“It's my clients' call,” he said. “They're entitled to this. And very candidly, they should have been able to get all this information and evidence long before now,”

“... Unfortunately, (Prosecutor McDonald) doesn't get a vote. She's not a party to our case. And I fully anticipate that the Oakland County by way of the sheriff's department will fully comply immediately with Judge Chabot’s order.”

He said in civil litigation, requesting the evidence’s release was “a very routine motion.”

Johnson's firm has filed multiple suits in Oakland County Circuit Court and federal court.

"The civil cases are also an important part of achieving justice for the victims, but we are asking that the criminal cases be allowed to proceed before more evidence is released," Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast said in the news release. “... We want to avoid any public release of video or other evidence that could inadvertently encourage future shooters.”

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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