By Alex Robinson
In her search to know what happened to her autistic son, Avonte Oquendo’s mother filed court papers Wednesday challenging the NYPD to release information about his disappearance.
Vanessa Fontaine hopes to reverse the Police Department’s denial of a Freedom of Information Law request her lawyer filed on her behalf in October that asked for any information about the 14-year-old’s disappearance from his Long Island City school Oct. 4.
“I have attempted to discover how he was permitted to wander off alone and out of his school during the school day when the school was supposed to be responsible for his safety,” she said in court papers.
The NYPD rejected her request in November, saying it would interfere with its investigation into his whereabouts and would violate Avonte’s privacy. Avonte’s remains were discovered last Thursday on the shoreline in College Point, 11 miles from where he vanished.
Fontaine and her lawyer, David Perecman, contended that releasing the information would not violate Avonte’s privacy as his family was requesting the information and because of the sheer fact he was a 14-year-old boy with special needs.
“All that is sought is information about how Avonte came to be outside of his school unattended,” Perecman said in court documents. “Such information does not give rise to any legitimate concern about the privacy of Avonte,”
Perecman maintained the request would not hinder the investigation as any possible criminality would have happened after he ran off from the city’s Riverside school.
State Supreme Court Judge Carol Huff gave the NYPD until Feb. 5 to show why it should not turn over the information to Avonte’s mother, he said.
The lawyer said he will be filing a $25 million wrongful death claim against the city and the Department of Education for not preventing Avonte’s disappearance.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.