The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is appealing an order by the state Office of Open Records to provide certified copies of dispatch records pertaining to the Nizah Morris incident.
On Sept. 14, the D.A.’s Office filed a notice of appeal in Philadelphia Common Pleas court.
Morris was a transgender woman found with a fatal head injury in 2002, shortly after a “courtesy ride” by Officer Elizabeth Skala. Her homicide remains unsolved. Inexplicably, Skala initiated an unrelated traffic stop while assigned to handle Morris, who was intoxicated.
Since 2009, PGN has tried to obtain complete dispatch records for Skala’s traffic stop from the D.A.’s Office.
In 2014, the D.A.’s Office submitted an affidavit indicating its only complete dispatch record for the traffic stop was given to it by PGN. But that record is missing the traffic stop’s district-control number, date and time of occurrence, location and priority level.
PGN contends the D.A.’s affidavit isn’t based on “actual knowledge,” as required by law. So the paper requested a certified copy of the dispatch record at issue, in order to have someone at the D.A.’s Office with “actual knowledge” conduct a search.
Last month, the OOR ordered the D.A.’s Office to comply with PGN’s request, but the agency refuses to do so.
Babette Josephs, a member of the Justice for Nizah Committee, urged D.A. Seth Williams to comply with the OOR’s ruling.
She also criticized that Williams continues to employ three staffers who were involved in a pornographic email ring described as “misogynistic,” “racist” and “homophobic.”
“D.A. Seth Williams is just playing games with the citizens,” Josephs told PGN.
In 2013, the city’s Police Advisory Commission recommended state and federal probes of the Morris case, citing an “appalling” local investigation.
Law-enforcement authorities have refused to answer numerous questions about the case, including why Morris’ original incident-tracking numbers were voided; why an officer who investigated the incident didn’t write a police report; why police waited several days before notifying relatives; and why multiple 911 transmissions are missing.