DPD officer's widow sues to keep videos of ambush private

The widow of Sr. Corporal Lorne Ahrens who was killed in the July 7 ambush does not want to the public to see video of the attack recorded on officers' body cameras.

Katrina Ahrens is now suing the city of Dallas to keep the records confidential.

July 7, 2016, was the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since September 11. Four Dallas police officers and a DART officer were killed during the ambush on a peaceful protest in Downtown Dallas. The shooting has been investigated for nearly a year.

Micah Johnson opened fire on police officers protecting a peaceful protest just before 9 p.m. that night in Downtown Dallas. He murdered DART Officer Brent Thompson and Dallas police officers Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Sergeant Michael Smith and Corporal Lorne Ahrens.

Johnson was killed by a police robot armed with explosives in El Centro College.

Sr. Corporal Ahrens was a husband and father of two children, 8 and 11 years old. His father, Bill Ahrens, spoke with FOX 4 by Skype in January.

“Lorne had two dreams,” he said. “It was children and working as a police officer."

Now, Katrina says in a lawsuit that she is trying to protect their children from seeing graphic images of their father’s death that could soon be made public when the investigation into the ambush is closed.

In court documents, Katrina says "it is hard to put into words specifically what it feels like to see detailed digital video footage of your husband being shot approximately thirteen times....suffering through the slow process of dying, and then speaking his last words on this earth before your eyes."

Katrina is a detective with DPD. Her attorneys did not want to comment on the lawsuit.

Attorney Toby Shook, a former prosecutor who is not involved with the case, says typically after an investigation closes the recordings would become public record.

“I don't think the legislature envisioned the technology we have. That cameras on officers can record these kinds of events,” he said. “I think a person can sympathize with this widow."

If released, the lawsuit says the sensitive records "will undoubtedly become the subject of sensational stories... in the media".

Katrina says in court documents that her children "would undoubtedly eventually see their daddy's murder in up-close and graphic detail even if I tried to prevent it,” and added, "our son regularly Googles his daddy's name".

Shook says the city may not fight the lawsuit.

"They may want a judge to make this decision for them,” he said.

There is also a second part to the lawsuit. It says the Dallas Police Department illegally opened and diverted her mail.

In some cases, the suit says Katrina’s mail was diverted to former Chief David Brown's office. It then sat there so long that charitable checks could no longer be cashed, and a gala honoring her husband had already passed by the time she got the invitation.

The city has not responded to requests for comment.

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