TV news director quits over videotape
Even before Seattle Police finish investigating two officers for abusing a robbery suspect, two staffers at the local FOX television affiliate that delayed airing a videotape of the incident are now unemployed.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Even before Seattle police finish investigating two officers for abusing a robbery suspect, two staffers at the local FOX television affiliate that delayed airing a videotape of the incident are now unemployed.
Meanwhile, the fallout continues to spread. KCPQ (Q13) has been condemned by a local Latino group. And the station's decision-making has been the subject of discussion among journalists nationally.
On Wednesday, KCPQ news director Steve Kraycik resigned. The same day, senior assignment editor Cheri Mossburg was fired.
The station did not return two phone messages left by a Seattle Times reporter; Kraycik also did not respond to a phone message.
Mossburg said she is consulting with a lawyer.
On Monday, Fé Lopez, president-elect of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington issued a statement saying, "failure to disclose police brutality toward an innocent Latino man is a grave disservice to our community."
Thursday, discussion on the station's handling of the incident reached a national journalism audience on the website PoynterOnline. "The main lesson here is about the damage that can result when journalists withhold information," wrote Al Tompkins, group leader for broadcasting and online at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists.
The controversy stems from an April 17 robbery in a Westlake Avenue parking lot. An officer kicked a suspect, later identified as Martin Monetti, who was lying on the sidewalk, and yelled, "I'm going to beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?" Another officer stepped on Monetti's leg. They let him go once they realized they had the wrong man.
A freelance videographer, who was working temporarily for KCPQ, turned the video over to higher-ups at the station, but they did not immediately air it.
"They said it didn't look that egregious," videographer Jud Morris recalled. He thinks KCPQ is too cozy with the cops and said he thought that was the problem.
Morris then decided to post the video on YouTube — which cost him his temporary job there, he said. That's when he sold the video to KIRO, which made it a top local story on May 6 and 7.
After that, KCPQ put it on the air, as well. The station later said they hadn't suppressed the video; they were busy investigating.
"We were working to uncover important facts that we believed would add context to the story and better inform our viewers," station news director Kraycik said in a statement.
Monetti, the victim, has since retained the law firm Schroeter Goldmark & Bender to represent him. The firm describes him as a 21-year old graduate of Franklin High School who lives with his parents.
"Mr. Monetti and his family are upset and very disappointed that members of the Seattle Police Department would engage in this unacceptable conduct," the firm said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Morris, the videographer, has come up with a side project: selling T-shirts that capitalize on the uproar. "Get your Seattle Police beating T-shirts" he posted on Twitter.
One has the Q13 logo and disparages the station.
The other has a still shot from the video and references the officer's words.
Maureen O'Hagan: 206-464-2562 or email@example.com
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