The Hon. Sandra Feuerstein Was Killed Friday. Boca Raton Police Didn’t Issue Advisory Until Monday.
UPDATE: 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, April 13th, 2021, see end of report for latest.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — The Boca Raton Police Department waited nearly 72 hours to issue a press release concerning the hit and run death of U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein, killed by an apparent out of control motorist on Ocean Drive.
The driver, allegedly on drugs and claiming to be Harry Potter, was ultimately arrested in Delray Beach.
Feuerstein died Friday. Police issued a press release on Monday. The delay is uncharacteristic for South Florida police departments which often issue media alerts within minutes of an event.
But sources with knowledge of the situation say that another agency, perhaps the U.S. Marshals Service, may have instructed Boca PD to be quiet. The U.S. Marshals service is charged with protecting judges. Although it seemingly became clear quite quickly that a woman claiming to be Harry Potter was unlikely to be an assassin, Boca Police may have notified a federal protective agency upon learning the victim was Judge Feuerstein.
The media and public blackout, if there was a media or public blackout, came to an end when Law360, a subscription-only legal news website, reported Feuerstein’s death around 10 p.m. Friday. A Boca Raton police officer confirmed the death to Law360, but the department still didn’t release information to the general public or local media. By Sunday, the Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts had processed the arrest report, but again, the Boca Raton police department said nothing until Monday.
Boca Raton City Spokeswoman Anne Marie Connolly told BocaNewsNow.com that the City did not instruct its police department to withhold information. The City of Boca Raton, and the Boca Raton Police Department, operate separate media units.
BocaNewsNow.com sent a series of questions to Police Spokesman Mark Economou, a civilian. He responded late Tuesday afternoon with a terse, “Your (public records request) has been submitted.” That’s not a traditional response from Boca Raton PD.
We reached out to Police Chief Michele Miuccio for clarity. She did not respond.
In a time when police departments are universally trying to communicate with the public in an effort for transparency, Boca Raton’s cone of silence on Feuerstein’s death is uncharacteristic and notable. A six year old child was also injured in the crash. Witholding that information is out of the norm for Boca Raton Police, and prevents parents from knowing that a child was critically injured on a busy road where families routinely walk with children.
The United States Department of Justice for the Southern District of Florida did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Marshals service, as a matter of policy, does not discuss open investigations.
UPDATE AT 7:40 p.m.: Boca Raton Police Spokesperson Mark Economou tells BocaNewsNow.com that the U.S. Marshals Service did not request the police department to withhold information. Economou says the department was waiting for traffic homicide investigators to conclude their investigation before releasing a general statement. He stated New York City and some other media, which had learned of the judge’s death from sources in New York, were calling en masse, so the department believed it was being responsive. He concurs, however, that no public advisory was transmitted to the general public, or local media, before Monday.
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