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Watching Tony Die

Secret video reveals corrections officers watch inmate bleed to death
Inmate Tony Lester lay bleeding to death as corrections officers stood idly by.

This investigative report aired in February 2013

12 News investigative reporter Wendy Halloran has been asking questions for more than two years about what happened to Tony Lester.

Halloran's public records' requests to the Arizona Department of Corrections began in the fall of 2010, just months after Lester died. In June 2011, she requested a copy of a video that captured how corrections officers responded when they found Lester bleeding in his cell.

ADOC denied the request, citing the privacy interests of Lester's surviving family members, who had filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging officers stood by and and did not render first aid.

In July 2012, Halloran renewed her request for the video. It was again denied.

In September, Halloran tried again with the permission of Tony Lester's family. ADOC denied her request a third time. Later that month, Halloran was allowed to watch the video at the law firm representing the state. She then requested the first 12 minutes of the video that showed how the officers responded. She was again denied.

12 News filed a special action in Superior Court in October asking that a judge review the matter. The following month, ADOC was ordered to produce the video to the station. The judge found ADOC wrongfully denied Halloran's public records request, and the department agreed to pay more than $26,000 in attorneys' fees to the station.