Local Television Station Portrays Alleged Cop Killer as Angel
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A convicted criminal who was gunned down after he killed one police officer and injured another was portrayed as an angel during a report on television station WCIA in Champaign, Illinois.
Officers Chris Oberheim was killed and his partner was wounded when they were shot by Darion Lafayette while responding to a domestic violence call. Oberheim’s partner returned fire and killed Lafayette.
Instead of focusing on the brave law enforcement heroes, the local CBS affiliate decided to produce a video sympathetic to the cop killer.
WCIA journalist Jane Kim, said Lafayette’s family is “remembering him as a compassionate person who treasured his loved ones above all else.” The graphic used in the report portrayed the accused cop killer as an angel — complete with wings and halo.
“He’s the most compassionate person who you will ever meet in your life, if you ever knew him,” one family member said.
Amy Oberheim, the sister of the slain police officer, called the television station to complain about the story, accusing them of disrespecting her family.
WCIA director Richard Flesch called her back within an hour and apologized repeatedly before taking the story down, she said.
“Reporting stories of this nature are complicated and emotional for everyone involved—for the families and friends of the deceased and the wounded, and for the police department. An event like this has a direct impact on everyone in our community,” the television station wrote on its Facebook page.
Oberheim said the story, “made it out to seem (Lafayette) was an angel. He was by far from that.”
“That article was very disrespectful to our family,” she said. “We want to grieve in privacy.”
In response WCIA is facing a massive advertiser boycott after enraged viewers deluged the station with complaints.
“Our job is to bring you stories in an unbiased and objective fashion. We don’t pass judgement. We report. That’s been our mission at WCIA 3 for almost 70 years. Friday night’s presentation of the story fell short of our standards and for that we apologize,” the television station said.