Joshua Scott Albert
Yesterday afternoon an officer with the Philadelphia Police Department shot and killed someone, who according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, was running away from the officer. But local media is doing a terrible job of telling the city that.
According to police, the officer was transporting two witnesses to a precinct for something unrelated when he saw the yet-to-be-identified victim driving erratically on a dirt bike. The cop pulled up next to the guy, whose bike was having a malfunction.
According to police when the officer went to confront the individual he started to back away. When the victim did this, for whatever reason the officer got out of his car and conducted a frisk, (surprise!), at which point the officer allegedly felt a gun and the victim ran.
While running away, the cop shot the victim in the back, according to video footage. Ross said the video caused “pause.”
“The one video vantage point is actually showing or depicting the officer firing as the guy is running away,” Ross also told reporters. “He is running ahead of the officer when he discharges from behind, so that’s a piece we want to look at very closely.”
Police seem to like killing black people, that’s not news, per se. There’s are also some weird things about what the police are saying surrounding this particular case, but this isn’t the post for that.
The issue I’m having with this current killing is how my local media is covering it and how they are fucking up said coverage.
A police officer killing someone while running away from someone is a huge story. That is the story–the fact that an armed government official shot someone who from initial reports wasn’t an immediate threat?
But here are the headlines from Philadelphia media, many of which have a track record of working closely with the police department. All of the articles include in the story that initial reports from Ross indicate the victim was fleeing.
This is from 6ABC:
Notice how the headline fails to mention the fact that the guy was fleeing from police officers and that video shows this.
This is from CBS Philly:
Again, notice the failure to mention how the victim was running away from the police officer. CBS takes it a little further with their headline, attempting to immediately demonize the victim out of the gate.
This is from Philly.com, which includes the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Again, notice the attempt to demonize the man and failure to mention anything about the fact there is video or that the victim had his back turned.
Here is NBC Philadelphia:
This post even included the video of the guy, but the headline fails to mention that.
Again, as you can see there’s no mention of the video in their headline nor the fact that victim was fleeing. They even include the video or Ross saying that there’s video and that the victim appeared to be running away.
This is from Billy Penn, a local digital startup that recently received a huge investment from the Gannett media empire. They didn’t write about it, but they chose to aggregate the story, writing their on headline which failed to mention that there’s video and that the victim was fleeing.
One might easily offer the rebuttal, “well, they included that information in the post.” Sure, yes, but that’s not how media, especially in Philly where we have a sever deficit in independent, alternative media, works. It’s no secret that if a headline isn’t interesting people won’t click on it and read it and all of these headlines failed to include the most important part of the story–that the victim, who has yet to be identified, was fleeing and that it was caught on camera.
Plans are already being put together for local protests, but overall the story of a cop shooting a black man who had his back turned isn’t being shared that much on social media and the local news media is largely to blame for that.
Interestingly enough, the city just announced plans to move the police headquarters to a building that used to house Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. The papers had to relocate due to declining sales.
And as always, ACAB and here’s a link to NBC10’s story that shows that the victim was fleeing.