A Santa Rosa City Council meeting that was supposed to provide clarity regarding advice given to council members about what they could say about the Andy Lopez shooting only made things murkier Tuesday after it was disclosed that an outside law firm is conducting some type of probe into the issue.
The council unanimously agreed to waive the attorney-client privilege protecting emails between City Attorney Caroline Fowler and council members, though they put off a discussion about what those emails contained.
The discussion of that advice, which Councilwoman Julie Combs has characterized as a “gag order” placed on the council, was scheduled for a future meeting to make sure the public is properly notified of it, Mayor Scott Bartley said.
But when Councilman Gary Wysocky asked for an email exchange that he had with Fowler over the shooting to be included in the emails that would be released, Fowler said the council could not do so because a private attorney hired to represent the city told her she could not.
Who this other attorney was, why they were hired, and what he or she is investigating were all shrouded in secrecy Tuesday, with Fowler and City Manager Kathy Millison both saying they could say could say nothing more about it.
“The city is represented by outside counsel in another matter to which these communications relate and I've been instructed by that attorney that they are subject to the attorney-client communication,” Fowler said.
Asked by Wysocky who retained the attorney, Millison answered:
“The City Attorney's Office is working with me and authorized the securing of the outside legal counsel based on request,” she said.
Asked who made the request, Millison said she could not say.
“I can't discuss any of the information related to that particular work that is being undertaken,” Millison said.
Lopez, 13, was shot and killed just outside city limits Oct. 22 by a sheriff's deputy who mistook his plastic BB gun for an AK-47 assault rifle, which is was designed to closely resemble.