Attorney Michael J. Walsh argued on Monday before the Freedom of Information Commission of Connecticut to halt the release of a video that may show the accidental death of a 19-year-old University of Connecticut student. Jeffny Pally fell asleep after consuming alcohol in October 2016. She was lying in front of a local fire station when an SUV operated by the University of Connecticut fire department accidentally ran over Pally. The fire brigade was responding to what was later determined to be a false alarm.
The Pally family is seeking to be spared the severe emotional anguish, said Walsh, should the video of the incident be released, as requested by several media outlets, including the Hartford Courant.
A hearing officer for the Freedom of Information Commission is expected to issue a recommendation.
Attorney Walsh is representing Shinymol and Abraham Chemmarappally, Jeffny Pally’s parents. The Hartford Courant has filed a complaint against the University of Connecticut and argues that the institution is improperly denying the newspaper’s request for the video, which was recorded by a surveillance camera outside the school's fire station. The lawyer for the family cited a pending motion before Superior Court that would permanently seal the video from release and the state's attorney's view that release could prejudice the criminal cases associated with the death. The motion is part of a civil lawsuit the Chammarappally family has brought against the university and the driver of the vehicle. At the hearing on Monday before the Freedom of Information Commission officer, reporter Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant argued UConn's decision violated the law.
Pally died during the pre-dawn hours of October 6. After spending the evening drinking, she fell asleep against the garage door of the university’s fire station. When the fire brigade responded to an alarm, the garage door open and Pally fell backward and was crush by the vehicle. Her corpse was not found until firefighters returned.
Six University of Connecticut students have been charged with giving alcohol to Pally, along with other underaged drinkers. The firefighter operating the vehicle, Dana E. Barrow Jr., was clear of wrongdoing by authorities. However, Pally's family alleges that Barrow was negligent and thus filed a lawsuit.