August 26, 2015

PRI | The Daily Beast

Police ordered a journalist from the BBC to delete footage taken from the scene of the arrest of Vester Flanagan, the gunman who fatally shot two journalists earlier today while they were covering a feature story.

BBC visual journalist Franz Strasser and White House reporter Tara McKelvey were confronted by police who demanded Strasser wipe footage from his camera or have his equipment confiscated and car towed. He recounted the exchange in a series of tweets:

Strasser called into question the police officer’s justification for having the footage deleted, publicly wondering why the authorities would want possible evidence eliminated.

The police were not within their rights to confiscate cameras from the BBC, Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, told Poynter in a statement. While he acknowledged that police were under pressure, he underscored that their threats constituted a violation of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

“I have been made aware of these incidents but think it best right now to mourn the tragic loss of our fellow journalists,” Osterreicher wrote. “I plan to contact the law enforcement agencies involved at a later time to address these issues.”

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Flanagan was pronounced dead at an area hospital after shooting himself.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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