In case that first revealed secret APD chief suspension, judge orders investigative report will remain confidential

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A state judge on Wednesday ordered that an investigative report that played a role in the firing of a former Anchorage police lieutenant will remain confidential. The judge cited an ongoing federal case in which the document is sealed.

The Anchorage Daily News and KTUU-Channel 2 had sought to unlock the report – which was paid for with up to $50,000 in city money – by intervening in a civil lawsuit against the municipality. The case involved two former police detectives who sued the city claiming they were the victims of racial discrimination and retaliation by the police department.

[Former Anchorage police chief was secretly suspended in 2015, court documents reveal]

The former detectives won $2.7 million from the city in penalties and legal fees. The case also revealed the existence of an investigative report that looked into another former police officer, Lt. Tony Henry.

Henry has filed a separate civil case against the city claiming, in part, that the investigative report contributed to his firing.

That report was the subject of recent filings by ADN and KTUU arguing that because the report was an exhibit and filed as a confidential document in the earlier court case, it should be released to the public.

“Apparently (the report) shows some serious problems within the police department," said attorney John McKay, who argued on behalf of the newsrooms. "This, I think, within the waning days of the previous administration (of then-Mayor Dan Sullivan). We don't know whether those problems have been addressed or taken care of."

Those problems include the potential manipulation of evidence that was to be presented to a jury in the racial discrimination case as well as potential mishandling of an investigation into criminal activity within the Alaska National Guard, McKay said.

The city and an attorney for Henry in Henry’s subsequent federal case fought the release of the report.

KTUU asked to speak to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz about the city’s long-term plan for the document. Would the city also fight to keep it secret as Henry’s lawsuit progresses in federal court?

Berkowitz did not respond to our request. City attorney Rebecca Windt Pearson said she was too busy to appear on camera but spoke about the case in a phone interview today.

“This is a particularly sensitive document because it sits at the crosshairs of, again, an internal law enforcement investigation and a series of sexual assaults,” she said. “I think it contains multiple layers of highly confidential information.”

Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner agreed with the city on Wednesday, ordering that the report should not be released because doing so would force the municipality to violate a federal judge’s order in a pending civil suit that Henry brought against the city after his firing.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the judge's order.

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