Lawyers for August Busch IV want to keep the police videos and reports of his helicopter landing in a Swansea parking lot from being released to the public.
Lawyers for Busch, who is the former CEO of Anheuser-Busch, argue that releasing the information would be a violation of his privacy.
Maurice Graham, one of Busch’s attorneys, sent a letter on Aug. 14 to Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson that was obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
“The purpose of this letter is to advise you that I believe it is entirely likely that the Swansea Village Police Department may receive media requests for a copy of the report and possibly even a copy of the videos of my client, Mr. Busch, during the time he was under the supervision of the Swansea Village Police Department,” Graham wrote. “We want to point out that under current (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws the information contained in the report and the video itself which was used to document Mr. Busch’s medical condition at the time will contain protected health information and cannot be released to the media.”
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We want to point out that under current (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws the information contained in the report and the video itself which was used to document Mr. Busch’s medical condition at the time will contain protected health information and cannot be released to the media.
Maurice Graham, attorney for August Busch IV
Grahamcould immediately be reached for comment.
Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said the village attorney was in the process of reviewing the police reports and the videos, then it would be reviewed by the Illinois attorney general’s office to determine what would be released.
On July 10, Busch landed a helicopter, loaded with four loaded guns, each with a round in the chamber, eight dogs and prescription pills at the Bronze Point parking lot. Later, police prevented him and his wife from taking off, court documents stated. The helicopter initially landed in the afternoon, but started up again about eight hours later when a caller told police that an “intoxicated male was getting into the helicopter and attempting to fly away,” according to the documents. A portable breath test showed Busch was not under the influence of alcohol.
Dawna M. Wood, Busch’s wife, was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat in the helicopter when police stopped it. She told police that Busch had anxiety issues, but was off his medication due to fertility treatments.
At some point, Busch told the officers that he was having an anxiety attack, and he started jumping around and running sprints, saying he was trying to get oxygen to cope with the anxiety attack.
Once Busch calmed, he allowed a Swansea police officer to search him. Then the officer asked if he could search the helicopter. The officer wrote that he found a pepper spray gun, a Ruger .22-caliber revolver, a Ruger .357-caliber Magnum revolver and a Glock .357-caliber Magnum. All of the guns were loaded.
A search warrant was obtained for Busch’s blood, but no charges have been filed.
Don Craven, the attorney for the Illinois Press Association, pointed out the Illinois 5th District Appellate Court has found that courts and police aren’t covered entities under HIPAA.
“Accordingly, the plain language of HIPAA demonstrates that the judiciary, which is not a health plan, a health care clearinghouse, or a qualified health care provider, is not subject to HIPAA’s privacy rule,” one opinion from the court states.
The case went to the appeals court after the Southern Illinoisan newspaper intervened in Dr. Thomas Coy’s suit against Washington County Hospital for suspending his practice privilege. The paper sought access to a settlement order that contained the names of patients. The appellate court gave the newspaper access to the document.
“Police departments are not ‘covered entities’ under HIPAA, and the records should be produced. Public resources should not be abused in this instance, and the department should simply release the records,” Craven said. “Unlike other cases in which the privacy or identity of a person is unknown, that is not true in this case. Everyone knows who is involved, and the public is entitled to review the records.”
Police departments are not ‘covered entities’ under HIPAA, and the records should be produced. Public resources should not be abused in this instance, and the department should simply release the records.
Don Craven, attorney, Illinois Press Association
But Busch’s attorney, Graham, wants to see the reports and videos in their entirety, even if Busch isn’t charged with any crime.
“If no charges are issued, then I will submit a renewed request to your department and understand I will receive an exact copy of the full investigative report plus a copy of all videos of Mr. Busch at that time,” Graham wrote. “Yes, I agree that this is a sensitive matter.”