PHOENIX - Hundreds of pages of police reports in the investigation of the Tucson shooting rampage that wounded former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords are being released Wednesday, giving the public a first glimpse into documents that authorities have kept private since the attack more than two years ago.
The Pima County sheriff's department will release an estimated 2,700 pages of records from the January 2011 shooting at a meet-and-greet event outside a grocery store that killed six people and wounded Giffords and 11 others. The documents include transcribed interviews with witnesses, various police reports and other records, and could provide new insight into how the shooting occurred.
News organizations seeking the records were repeatedly denied the documents in the months after the shooting and the arrest of 24-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, who was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had prevented the sheriff's department from releasing the records in response to a request from The Washington Post, ruling in March 2011 that Loughner's right to a fair trial outweighed whatever disclosures might be authorized under state law.
Last month, Burns cleared the way for the release of the records after Star Publishing Company, which publishes the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, had sought their release. The judge said Loughner's fair-trial rights are no longer on the line now that his criminal case has resolved.