Fox News broadcast a suspect's suicide live today, setting of a firestorm of criticism, as well as viral views of the video (warning: the disturbing, graphic clip is posted after the jump).
The motorist was being chased by police in the Phoenix area when he got out of a vehicle, ran away, stopped, put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger as Fox anchor Shepard Smith repeated to the helicopter-based camera crew, "Get off, get off, get off, get off, get off ... "
Live television coverage of shootings is nothing foreign to Los Angeles TV viewers. In fact, by our count, it has happened close to three times this year alone (examples after the jump).
Following Fox's airing of the Phoenix-area video today, anchor Shepard Smith tweeted an apology:
That was wrong, and that won't happen again on my watch, and I'm sorry.
The L.A. police union, which has criticized recent coverage of two police chases, was quick to point out its own objection to high-def images of such situations.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League today sent out a media blast saying that it's "time to revisit" its critique of chase coverage, which it called "the new bloodsport:"
What exactly is the value to the public, more importantly our young people, to witness this event live and in high definition?
On Sept. 11 a murder suspect was chased through Koreatown, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Hollywood, with much of the pursuit caught on live television. Though broadcasts ended before the termination of the chase, helicopters stayed overhead and captured the situation west of downtown as the suspect shot it out with cops, only to be hit by gunfire. (He survived). Stations then aired that video on their subsequent programs:
In April 19-year-old Abdul Arian, behind the wheel of a cop-like Ford Crown Victoria, led police on a chase down the 101 freeway in Woodland Hills before stopping, getting out, and apparently pointing a finger at officers, as if it was a gun. He was fatally shot on live television. His family is suing the department. Video:
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In February a carjacking suspect stopped at a gas station at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Koreatown following a police chase. He allegedly pulled out a gun, prompting officers to open fire. That suspect was killed. Video of the shooting was replayed in slow motion on L.A. television. Video: