From the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists archives
By Casey Bukro
Back in 2011, Chicago radio reporter Steve Edwards was covering gang violence and Chicago police for WBEZ when a video surfaced, showing youths menacing a suspect in the back seat of an open police squad car.
Was it ethical to use that video on a WBEZ broadcast?
That’s what Edwards wanted to know when he called the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists. The video shows two Chicago police officers standing at the parked blue-and-white SUV with the doors open in Chicago’s violence-prone Humboldt Park area. A group of shouting young men, some possibly minors, taunt a suspect cowering in the back seat and trying to cover his face.
Someone tells the photographer, possibly a gang member, “get a close-up.” The photographer posted the video on YouTube and quickly took it down.
Edwards told AdviceLine that WBEZ had been investigating allegations that Chicago police had a history of subjecting gang members to harm by picking them up, then dropping them off in “enemy” gang territory.
The Chicago Police Department told Edwards that it got a complaint about the incident and released this statement:
“The conduct that is alleged does not reflect the behavior and core values of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department nor our commitment to serve the community in a professional manner.” The department said its internal investigations divisions began an investigation.
In 2013, the Chicago Police Department announced that it had dismissed the two police officers involved in the incident, saying the charges included “unlawfully restraining a youth, transporting him without a valid police purpose to the turf of a gang that would threaten him and making a false statement about the incident to an Internal Affairs detective.”
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