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Time To Start Afflicting the Press

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  • Time To Start Afflicting the Press

    Mark Twain once said that the duty of the press was to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. I think it's time some of us started afflicting the press.

    Earlier this evening I came across a story at

    http://www.newsnet5.com/news/4771787/detail.html bearing the headline and opening statement of -

    *********************
    Use Of Taser Gun On Teen Ruled Justifiable Homicide
    Trespassing Teen Killed After Police Use Taser Gun

    AKRON, Ohio -- The Summit County prosecutor ruled Tuesday that a Springfield Township police officer's use of a Taser gun on a trespassing suspect was justifiable homicide.

    ****************************

    The impression given here is that a suspect died as the direct result of being tased by a police officer and that a county prosecutor ruled this to be justifiable homicide. However, if you read the rest of the story you find that the medical examiner ruled that the suspect died due to a cardiac arrhythmia caused by drugs he had taken earlier that evening, and not from being tased. Similarly, the prosecutor merely stated that the use of force was reasonable, and not that any form of homicide (justifiable or not) was involved. The headline should really say, "Trespasser Resists Arrest and Gets Tased - Later Dies of Unrelated Causes."

    I don't know about you, but I would be devastated if the press accused me of killing someone when I didn't do anything remotely close to that. In this case the officer was a woman. If she has small children, no doubt they will now be taunted by their classmates with, "Your mommy's a killer." Her husband may hear things from friends like, "Hey man, don't **** off your wife or she'll fry your ***," all because of an erroneous news article.

    I have already expressed my concerns to the TV station in question via email. I invite you to read the story for yourself and if you fell like I do then let them know. The TV station can be reached at [email protected]
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

  • #2
    Same bull**** headlines pop up in hundreds of newspapers every day in this country. Hey, it sells papers.
    "I only had a couple!"

    Comment


    • #3
      Nasty Gram sent.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thats a good example of what my girlfriend and I used to argue/heatedly discuss about sometimes, was the press. She is all for press uncovering and exposing the evils of the world and I told her that the press is one of the evils of the world and the argument just would get worse.... Needless to say we don't discuss that any more...we agree to disagree and move on with our lives...
        "We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?"

        Comment


        • #5
          This is the message I sent to the station; I included my name and agency:

          It is this kind of reporting that led me to leave the news business (reporter) after 25 years. I now work for a major law enforcement agency as a civilian media relations manager (17+ years). I've been on both sides...and it is clear to me why this particular story is drawing the ire of cops around the country.

          Nowhere in your story (on your website) does the prosecutor use the words "justifiable homicide." The story DOES say that the prosecutor said the officer was justified in using that level of force (taser) to subdue the suspect.

          The medical examiner says, according to your story, that drugs killed the suspect. No mention of taser.

          It appears that you took the leap to connect taser with death in this case. You had all of the information, yet you still got it wrong.

          Comment


          • #6
            Consider them "afflicted". E-mail sent.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dave Cohen
              This is the message I sent to the station; I included my name and agency:

              It is this kind of reporting that led me to leave the news business (reporter) after 25 years. I now work for a major law enforcement agency as a civilian media relations manager (17+ years). I've been on both sides...and it is clear to me why this particular story is drawing the ire of cops around the country.

              Nowhere in your story (on your website) does the prosecutor use the words "justifiable homicide." The story DOES say that the prosecutor said the officer was justified in using that level of force (taser) to subdue the suspect.

              The medical examiner says, according to your story, that drugs killed the suspect. No mention of taser.

              It appears that you took the leap to connect taser with death in this case. You had all of the information, yet you still got it wrong.

              Dave, let us know if you hear anything back. I am curious to see how they respond to your letter.
              If you ever have sprained ankle, give me a call.

              Comment


              • #8
                Here's the story that was carried in the Akron Beacon Journal:

                Drug use, Taser blamed in death

                Investigators say officer acted properly; stimulants linked to fatality

                By Ed Meyer

                Beacon Journal staff writer


                An Akron man who died after a Springfield Township police officer stunned him with a Taser gun was intoxicated by methamphetamine, ecstasy and other substances, authorities said Tuesday.

                According to an investigation by township police, the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office and the Summit County Prosecutor's Office, 18-year-old Richard T. Holcomb's death was attributed to a combination of the illegal stimulants and the effects of the Taser on his heart on the night of his confrontation with the officer.

                The officer had responded to a call from a township resident about an alleged trespasser on the resident's property.

                Police said numerous witnesses at a May 28 graduation party for one of Holcomb's friends told investigators that Holcomb had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana that night, and at one point had declared: ``I am God.''

                ``But for the drug intoxication,'' a medical examiner's report said, the use of the Taser ``would not have resulted in death.''

                The investigation found that the responding officer, Kristina K. Albrecht, 28, used proper force to stop Holcomb from threatening and charging at her ``like he had a baseball bat,'' the prosecutor's report said.

                ``The whole reason she used her Taser was so she didn't have to use her gun,'' township police Capt. Garry Moneypenny said.

                Mary Ann Kovach, chief of the prosecutor's criminal division, said no charges will be filed against Albrecht or anyone else in the May 28 incident.

                Lawsuit possible

                However, Craig McLaughlin of Cleveland, a lawyer for the victim's family, said the official investigation was not the end of the case. The family is planning a wrongful death lawsuit in Summit County against the officer and the township police department, he said.

                ``I think the biggest thing is that an unarmed teenager should not be killed for trespassing by a professional and a competent police officer,'' McLaughlin said. ``A professional and competent police officer would not have Tased an unarmed teenager four times.''

                The teen's mother, Kimberly Miller of Akron, said she was aware of the official report but declined to comment. She said her lawyer would be talking on behalf of the family.

                Albrecht, who was placed on paid leave for two weeks immediately after the incident, still has not returned to police duty, Moneypenny said.

                ``She's taking the time off she feels necessary in coping with this,'' he said.

                Moneypenny said no one in the police department was celebrating the outcome of the investigation. ``It's a tragedy that this happened, but we didn't put ourselves in that position,'' he said. ``We were drawn into the situation.''

                According to police records, Albrecht responded to a call at 12:54 a.m. from a township resident who reported seeing an unidentified man shirtless and screaming in the back yard of her property in the 600 block of Griffith Road.

                The resident, Deborah Hartman, said Albrecht acted ``absolutely properly'' in handling the situation with Holcomb.

                Interviewed several days after the incident, Hartman said the officer ``had a firm voice, but (was) extremely calm, and she never raised her voice, ever.''

                Hartman said she was able to hear the officer because she has an intercom system inside a horse barn on a pasture where the confrontation occurred.

                The prosecutor's office issued a five-page report on its investigation, saying it was based on interviews with township officers, police reports, interviews with witnesses at the graduation party, an interview with Hartman, the victim's juvenile history and a report on the use of the Taser.

                At one point during the incident, Holcomb ``was waving his arms like he had a baseball bat,'' the prosecutor's report said.

                Later, according to the report, Holcomb sat down and began mumbling rap verses and the officer ``heard him say something about `someone's gonna die tonight.' ''

                Fatal confrontation

                When Albrecht asked him to talk about his problems, the report said, ``she did not receive coherent responses.''

                ``Suddenly, Holcomb got up without warning and charged up the hill at her,'' the report said.

                Albrecht repeatedly told Holcomb to stop, but he did not, and that is when the officer fired the Taser at him, according to the report.

                But there was still more to the confrontation.

                After the Taser's probes struck and penetrated the left side of the teen's chest, Holcomb continued trying to get up, after being told to stay down, according to the report. The officer reactivated the Taser's charge three times, the report said.

                The medical examiner's report listed the cause of Holcomb's death as a homicide, but noted that it carried no criminal implications and was for ``medical certification'' only.

                According to Akron Municipal Court records, Holcomb was arrested in February, two days after his 18th birthday, after a car accident. He was convicted of possession of alcohol and drug paraphernalia and received a 180-day jail sentence, with all but five days suspended.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Letter sent to station from Texas. We're tired of this treatment.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I sent one too.

                    Comment

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