ORLANDO, Fla. — Local authorities will be permanently blocked from releasing photos and videos taken of comedian Bob Saget’s body and his personal effects under a ruling issued by a judge Monday.
At a virtual hearing for the lawsuit filed by Saget’s family, Circuit Judge Vincent Chiu agreed on a permanent injunction stopping the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and District 9 medical examiner’s office from making public a limited cache of records.
The family’s attorney, Brian Bieber, told the judge he met with authorities and after discussions, they agreed that other records, including photos of Saget’s hotel room that don’t include his personal effects and a redacted investigative report, are subject to public disclosure.
“I want to commend everybody involved here because this could have been very messy,” Chiu told the parties after his ruling. “... I think what we’ve done here, what the parties have done here is strike a very delicate and necessary balance.”
Saget’s wife Kelly Rizzo and his daughters tearfully thanked the judge during the hearing.
“Nothing that we’re going to do today obviously is going to take away the pain of your loss,” the judge told Saget’s family members. “But the hope is that what we can do today by entering this injunction is to allow you a little bit of space and privacy to travel that.”
Saget, 65, was found dead Jan. 9 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Orlando. His death was ruled an accident.
Before the lawsuit was filed, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office had already released an incident report and a recording of the 911 call by hotel security. The medical examiner’s office had also made public an autopsy report that showed Saget died of head trauma that “most likely incurred from an unwitnessed fall” in his room.
The complaint from Saget’s family argued that records from the death investigation and autopsy are confidential and should be exempt from release. Photos, video and audio recordings of autopsies are already exempt from public disclosure under Florida’s public records laws.
At the hearing, Bieber said OCSO officials had taken 147 photos during their investigation of Saget’s death. While 90 photos depicting the deceased or his personal effects would be confidential, 57 photos of the hotel and Saget’s room would not be protected by any statutory exemption, he said.
Body camera video from deputies taken outside the hotel room would also be releasable, though footage from inside the hotel room would be protected, Bieber said.
Saget, who rose to fame on the hit TV show “Full House” and was the first host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” had performed at Hard Rock Live at Orlando’s Universal CityWalk two days before his death.