***WARNING: The video posted with this blog contains footage that some viewers may find disturbing. An explanation from authorities is shown before it. Discretion is advised.***
Again, like last blog, I ask you to come back in a few days or so, as I do want to share an amazing feature story from one of my favorite TV storytellers. Seriously, this is a can't miss video.
But I feel compelled talk/write out my thoughts on KBTX releasing the dash cam footage of the Caldwell robbery suspect being shot and killed by police after he fired on and hit an officer. I should preface it all by saying I was out of town when our newsroom received the footage, so I was in no way involved in the discussions as to whether we should air it. I know not whether there was dissent in the ranks, as I haven't spoken to any colleagues since my return.
I think there are points everyone can agree on: that our law enforcers by in large are capable heroes who often have to make split-second decisions to save lives. That death and the viewing of it is a sensitive subject, as everyone is someone's son or daughter, friend and neighbor. That we are lucky that in our corner of this country, there are so few incidents like what Caldwell has gone through.
The comments I have seen concerning the video's release have ranged. Debate is good, and there aren't 100 percent correct answers.
Did we forewarn viewers on the air that the footage we were showing was graphic? From the video I saw, we did. We are obligated to do so, not by government laws as much as human instinct and compassion to young and/or sensitive viewers.
A grand jury cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, but does the public have the right to see the evidence and make up their mind for themselves? In a case such as this where someone's son, friend and neighbor died by the actions of police officers, I believe the citizens of Caldwell deserve the chance to decide if their protectors took proper steps.
But again, the video is not for everyone. I myself debated whether to watch, as I knew I would see the last moments of someone's life. That they were a criminal is irrelevant. When the cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's hanging emerged, I had the same internal debate.
If you viewed Louis Avrin's shooting, were you forced? If so, please contact your local authorities, as you, likely an American in the United States, do not have to do that against your will. The Founding Fathers of this country so decreed it.
Those same patriots also gave the press of this country freedoms. I am often reminded of that, often thankful for it. Our obligation is to present facts in order for Americans to be better informed and make educated decisions in their lives. We are thankful that so many people in our community choose to be better informed of what happens here and elsewhere through us, and our hope is that those people continue for years to come.
As human beings, we can't get it right every time. In this case, it's my belief that we took all the proper steps and made the right decisions in presenting the information we had.
What's your belief?