WESLEY CHAPEL — One thing missing from news reports of the Cobb Theatre shooting is the jail mugshot of the suspect, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves Jr.
That’s because the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office isn’t releasing the photograph, citing a Florida statute that exempts from public records photographs of current or former law enforcement officers.
Reeves, accused of killing Land O’ Lakes resident Chad Oulson in a dispute over cell phone texting at the Grove 16 theater, is a retired captain with the Tampa Police Department.
Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Pasco sheriff’s office, said the policy of withholding a mugshot of a law enforcement officer is nothing new.
“We haven’t done that for a number of years,” he said.
Florida’s open-records law makes plenty of government-related information readily available, including personnel files. But the law does include exemptions, and one such exemption says that “home addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and photographs of active or former sworn or civilian law enforcement personnel” are not subject to public disclosure.
The law doesn’t specify whether the photograph exemption is still in effect when the law enforcement officer is charged with a crime, but the sheriff’s office has interpreted it that way for years, Doll said.
That doesn’t mean Reeves’ image would never appear in print, on television or on the Internet. Doll said news organizations could use photographs of Reeves they find through social media. News photographers also can photograph him during court appearances.