We tackled a piece of fast-breaking news last week about an officer-involved shooting in Greensboro with contradicting claims. Police said the man accidentally shot himself while running with a gun, but the guy with the bullet in him — along with a couple witnesses — said he was shot by the police.
In the absence of definitive proof — like, for instance, police body-camera footage of the event, which by state law the public is not allowed to see without a court order — and, if we’re being honest, because of a degree of general mistrust in law enforcement institutions, we checked it out.
Our investigation was unresolved, just a compilation of eyewitness accounts and information from the incident report, because that’s what journalism is.
In between the time we posted the story online and the day our weekly newspaper came out, Greensboro police released the body-camera footage of the incident, in which the suspect clearly admits to shooting himself by accident to an officer on the scene.
As the new information came in, we made an update to the original story, and created another post about the release of the footage with clips of everything to back it up.
There’s so much to glean from this.
For one, police can release body-camera footage pretty damn quickly when they want to. For another, it shows that body camera footage can exonerate the police , too. Either way, every single recorded minute of a police officer’s body-camera footage should be public record.
This, of course, would require a change in state law.
It also raises the question of whether we should have done this story at all.
Our answer: Absolutely. We were presented with conflicting stories of a police altercation in which a citizen took a bullet. Unable to verify what actually happened, we presented the facts we were able to uncover. Without our reporting, we believe the Greensboro police would never have released the video of this altercation. And it puts all local law enforcement agencies on notice that we will be aggressively reporting on them when we find something that doesn’t add up