• 86°

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

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

Lifestyles

COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing event set for Tuesday in Kill Devil Hills

News

Insurance Commissioner Causey to survey earthquake damage in Sparta

News

Nags Head’s DMV Driver License office back open after extended closure; road test waiver rules clarified

News

Southern Shores approves debris monitoring contract renewal with Thompson

News

Kitty Hawk mayor urges residents to respond to 2020 Census

News

North Carolina weekly gas price update

News

Oregon Inlet Task Force meeting set for Tuesday

News

Insurance Commissioner Causey urges consumers to contact insurance agents in light of hurricane, earthquake

Business

Karen Henderson named Employee of the Month for The Outer Banks Hospital

News

5.1-magnitude quake hits North Carolina

Lifestyles

Windsor man feeds those in need after deadly tornado

News

Waterways commission meets Monday

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Forever announces new projects for Outer Banks national parks

News

VA Community Care Program works to get Vidant on board after transition

News

Public health alert issued for smoked sausage products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

Schools

Tyrrell County Schools announces Nichols Scholarship winner

News

North Carolina to relax 10-person limit for GOP convention

Lifestyles

North Carolina residents warned not to plant unsolicited foreign seeds

News

Most North Carolina parents won’t have option to send kids back to start school year in person

News

Cooper: Most of Trump’s coronavirus strategy ‘nonexistent’