Too much, too soon? Or should certain things just be kept private, period?
Facing some backlash over the graphic nature of their report yesterday about the cause and circumstances of Robin Williams' suicide, Marin County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Coroner Keith Boyd is defending the release of the information as standard protocol while also acknowledging the understandably strong feelings provoked by the news.
It was announced that, on Monday morning, Williams hanged himself with a belt, resulting in his death from asphyxia. The chilling details made headlines, ranging from the straight forward to the purposely salacious, all over the world.
"The Sheriff's Office understands how the release of the kind of information you heard yesterday may be viewed as disturbing by some, and as unnecessary by others, but under California law, all that information is considered 'public information' and we are precluded from denying access to it," Boyd said in a statement obtained by E! News. "These kinds of cases, whether they garner national attention or not, are very difficult for everyone involved.
"Frankly," he continued, "it would have been our personal preference to withhold a lot of what we disclosed to the press yesterday, but the California Public Records Act does not give us that kind of latitude. For the same reasons, we will likely be required to release to the media the 911 phone call we received from Mr. Williams' residence and the fire dispatch tapes that resulted as well. To date, we have received a staggering number of formal Public Act Requests to do so and we are required by law to make those disclosures within 10 days.
"While we continue working with our County Counsel's Office to determine if there might be an exemption in the Public Records Act that would allow us to withhold those tapes, my past experience has been that there is not and we will once again have to do what the law requires us to do."
A source tells us that a private memorial is being planned for Williams in the Bay Area. Tributes have poured in from all corners of the physical and digital world, and various spots associated with his films, from the bench he famously shared with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting to the San Francisco house where the Hillard family lived in Mrs. Doubtfire became instant shrines.