Unfortunately for the family of murdered Cincinnati police officer Sonny Kim, they are at the center of it.
Cincinnati.com reports that a police dash cam incident of the video of Kim being shot was taken by another officer June 19.
Several media organizations including The Enquirer and WCPO have requested the video.
Kim’s widow has urged the city not to release it.
“The video clip will not add value to anyone, but instead add an even greater amount of pain.” said Jessica Kim. She has reportedly seen the video and is concerned releasing it to the public will have an adverse impact on her children.
The city says pubic record laws require that the video be made available. However City Manager Harry Black said he would rather not release it and has asked Cincinnati’s law department to review the matter.
WCPO says if it receives the video, it will review the tape and determine if the tape has any news value before airing it.
On the surface, the tape does not have any news value. There is no indication there was police wrongdoing in this matter. All indications are that Trepierre Hummons, 21, who shot Kim, wanted to die in what is known as suicide by cop.
However, whether the media shows the video is not up for the city to decide. The media acts as an independent watch dog of authorities. There has to be a separation. That’s how the first amendment works. That’s what our founding father intended.
Unfortunately journalists are human. They make mistakes. It would be tragic if the video was shown publicly and the family was put through this ordeal all over again less two months after they buried Sonny.
The determining factor here may be the public. If the video is shown and there is no journalistic reason to show it, there will be a huge public backlash and the news organization that shows it, as well as the media in general, will pay the price. That is a significant deterrent that will make it more likely the media will make the right decision.
The media makes decisions like this on a daily basis. Very few news organizations will show video of someone shot and killed even though it may be available to them. Most media organizations rarely even show body bags at a crime scene.
The city has no choice but to release the video. It’s up to the media whether to show it. It can’t make that decision unless it is allowed to first see the video.