• 81°

N.C. legislator: Public records provision will be addressed

North Carolina legislators will take another look at a provision within a bill on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk that keeps certain police investigative records secret when they are forwarded to the state medical examiner, a top Republican said Tuesday.

A broad health measure approved last week by the House and Senate includes language sought by the Department of Health and Human Services. It would clarify that death investigation records held by local or state law enforcement and deemed confidential under state public records law would retain that same confidentiality when they are handed to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner Michelle Aurelius has said current law has made law enforcement more hesitant to share records that her office needs to determine a cause of death. But public records and prisoner advocates contend the language could make investigations into unnatural or unexpected deaths, like those occurring in police custody or at a jail, less transparent, a coalition of media outlets reported.

House Majority Leader John Bell, a Wayne County Republican, said the language was included in the bill because it was requested by DHHS, one of Cooper’s Cabinet-level agencies. The language, initially introduced in another measure filed in April 2019, has received renewed attention because it was approved late at night and as calls for police reform have intensified following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“After further conversations and discussions about its unintended consequences, I am confident this will be revisited and corrected once the legislature reconvenes,” Bell said in a news release. The Senate also would have to agree to act. The legislature is expected to return briefly next week, then go home until September.

Cooper hasn’t commented publicly on the bill, which he can sign into law or veto. It will also become law if he doesn’t act by next Monday.

Opposition to the records provision became a rallying cry for dozens of people demonstrating outside the Executive Mansion in the early hours Tuesday, multiple news outlets reported. They want Cooper to veto the measure, saying the language would hurt the Black Lives Matter movement.

By late morning, a dozen protesters remained on the sidewalk across the street from the Mansion. Raleigh police confirmed through Twitter that four of the protesters were arrested on Tuesday afternoon for spray painting in the middle of the street. The demonstration ended soon afterward.

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

State audit: North Carolina Virtual Public School courses need work

DCDHHS updates COVID-19 cases; total now 113

News

First responders battle house fire in Nags Head’s historic Cottage Row

News

Jackie Tillett named Dare County election director

Crime

Former NFL player sentenced to prison on drug charge

News

Officials: Inmate stabs two officers in North Carolina prison

News

Forest drops lawsuit challenging Cooper executive orders

News

‘Reporting error’ fuels 200,000 COVID testing overcount in North Carolina

News

Healthcare systems in Virginia, North Carolina plan to merge

Hyde

Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department reaches milestone

News

New North Carolina campaign spending rule ends practice Berger used

News

Cooper wins key ruling in COVID-19 legal fight with Forest

Crime

Kill Devil Hills shooting suspect arrested

News

Second COVID-19 related death reported in Tyrrell County

News

Coastal Villas major subdivision preliminary plat approved

News

Area COVID-19 case count update

News

Jeffrey Ackerman sworn in as Duck’s new police chief

News

Aftershock rattles North Carolina town as governor visits

News

Columbia Planning Board to meet Thursday

News

First director of N.C. government watchdog agency retiring

News

No federal relief leaves states, cities facing big deficits

News

Prosecutors recommend probation for ex-N.C. Rep. Hayes

News

DA Womble releases statement regarding death of Kitty Hawk woman

Lifestyles

Help arrives as Bertie moves forward in storm recovery

News

Nags Head Police Department seeks identity of person whose dog reportedly bit two people

Crime

Kill Devil Hills police seek help looking for shooting suspect