July 6, 2022

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Michigan judge orders release of Oxford school shooting evidence, including surveillance footage

Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot signed an order Thursday requiring the Oakland County Sheriff’s office, the county and the Oxford Community School District to release evidence, including video footage, related to the November school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan.

The ruling was made as part of a civil lawsuit brought by families of victims of the shooting against school officials, accused shooter Ethan Crumbley and his parents. Court documents show that the victims’ families subpoenaed records related to the shooting and surrounding events, but the school district did not hand over the documents by the deadline set.

A memorial outside of Oxford High School continues to grow, Dec. 3 2021, in Oxford, Mich.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ethan Crumbley, a student at the school, is charged with 24 counts after he allegedly shot and killed four of his classmates on Nov. 30.

His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly failing to recognize warning signs about their son in the months before the shooting.

All three Crumbleys have pleaded not guilty. Judge Kwame Rowe on Thursday postponed Ethan Crumbley’s trial to next year.

The families of the victims had asked Judge Chabot to order the school district, Oakland County and the Oakland County Sheriff’s department to hand over evidence.

Parents walk away with their kids from the Meijer’s parking lot in Oxford where many students gathered following an active shooter situation at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Nov. 30, 2021.

Detroit Free Press via USA Today Network, FILE

The district and sheriff’s department had filed requests to stop the release of the evidence, but Chabot denied those requests.

“We fully expect that Oxford Community Schools, Oakland County/Oakland County Sheriff’s Office will fully comply with the law and Judge Chabot’s order. Our clients have waited over seven months to see the full and complete investigation with their own eyes; that’s long enough,” Ven Johnson an attorney for the victims families said in a statement to ABC News.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard, whose department has led the investigation into the shooting, told ABC News that he will meet with lawyers before settling on a timeline for the release of the footage.

Bouchard said he has no issue following the judge’s order, but expressed concern that publicizing the video might complicate efforts to sit juries in the trials against the alleged shooter and his parents, both of which are scheduled for later this year.

The decision came as the Oxford Community School District said Wednesday that it hired Guidepost Solutions and Varnum law to investigate the events surrounding the shooting. The district said it will make all materials and information available to the investigative team.

The district said Guidepost will share the report with the community at the same time it is shared with the board and school administration.

“Of course, independent investigations like these take time, and we will not sacrifice the integrity of the investigation with an artificial timeline.  With that said, the investigation team is getting in place, getting up to speed, and getting ready to begin – and they will conduct and complete their work with deliberate care and speed,” Tom Donnelly, the school board president, said in a letter to the community.

The district said it will also launch a website that covers its response to the shooting that it expects to be live in about a month. It also set up a secure email that would allow students, family members and members of the community to share information or request a meeting with investigators.