The same exemption that allows police to withhold incident reports from the public also prevents their release to victims.
By Michael Pope
Kossi Djossou was murdered in December, shortly before his assailant committed suicide. Police soon closed the case.
But for family members of the murder victim, the story isn't over. They want answers.
Yet their request for information has been denied by the Police, who cite an exemption in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Wesley Carrington, an attorney representing the victim's father, says the only way to get the information may be as the byproduct of a lawsuit.
"Because of the very restrictive witholding that's just a matter of policy for some of the Virginia police departments, it makes a legal claim a little more appealing and desirable just as a fact of being able to get the information at all," he says.
Jeffrey Dion of the National Center for Victims of Crime says Virginia shouldn't force people into this corner.
"Why should we make it that cumbersome for victims," says Dion. "Why should victims have to go out and get a lawyer just to get some information?"
For now, that's the only recourse because documents that are readily available in every other state aren't about to be available any time soon.