Widow Of Slain Dallas Cop Sues City Over Death Video

Katrina Ahrens is asking a federal judge to order the Dallas PD to keep video recordings of her husband's murder out of the media's hands

Katrina Ahrens, wife of Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, comforts her son. — Stewart F. House/Getty Images
May 31, 2017 at 1:24 PM ET

The widow of one of five Dallas police officers murdered during an ambush on a peaceful protest last year is suing the city to keep graphic video of her late husband’s death from being made public.

Katrina Ahrens, the wife of Dallas Police Department Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, filed her lawsuit on Tuesday, nearly a year after the mass shooting on law enforcement officials who were trying to keep the peace following two controversial, officer-related deaths of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota that same week. The ambush, carried out by black nationalist Micah Xavier Johnson, garnered national headlines, and is believed to have been in retaliation for the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Ahrens’ widow, herself a detective in the DPD’s Crimes Against Persons Division, claims she asked the DPD not to release dashboard and body camera footage that allegedly shows her husband being shot more than a dozen times, as well as his final moments. The video, she claims, showed her husband “suffering through the slow process of dying, and then speaking his last words before her eyes.”

She claims that the DPD declined to agree to keep the videos private.

“As any reasonable person would expect, viewing these records was extremely painful and upsetting, gut wrenching, and devastating to her,” her complaint states. “Even watching the videos in seclusion caused her severe mental and emotional distress.”

Additionally, Ahrens claims the DPD opened mail addressed to her and had sent that mail directly to the police department, including an invitation to an awards gala honoring her late husband. She claims she received the invitation two months after the ceremony, adding that her being unable to attend “reflects negatively” on her as she “would have gladly attended the gala and parade had she been aware of it.”

Legally, Ahrens’ request for the DPD not to release what are, in some cases, public records is based on her claims that the videos and other materials fall under Texas’ Sensitive Death Records, which are generally only given to the attorneys involved in a criminal case, government officials and the families of the victim. Ahrens’ concern is that media outlets will request the material and use it to concoct sensationalized stories about her husband and his death.

“The city has stated it has not, to its knowledge, released any information related to its criminal investigation of the July 7 attack, but that it intends to produce materials including sensitive death records once its investigation is closed,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit states that Ahrens, who is not seeking monetary damages, “wishes to maintain privacy with respect to these records and shield her children from material that would undoubtedly permanently and negatively impact the memories they have of their father.”