On May 4, Fox News began reporting that the Baltimore police had shot an African-American man, as crowds began to gather in the area, feeling uneasy. Eyewitness reports stated that police had driven up to where a young, African-American kid was sitting on the porch. They claimed that the boy was just sitting on the steps until he saw Baltimore police and began running. The witness claimed that she did not see a gun on the boy at all, but that police chased him and shot him in the back, before he hit the ground. The Baltimore Police then reported, however, that the boy did have a gun and that it was that gun that went off while the boy was running, not one that belonged to police. Residents of Baltimore were against believing the police statements, after all that has happened with the Freddie Gray incident. Fox News later retracted their statements, siding with police on how the incident went down. With the conflicting reports that came in, during the incident, many are now wondering: is the truth that Baltimore police shot a man in the back, or did the statements that they made about the accidental gun firing reflect the truth?
Mike Tobin of Fox News, initially reported the incident while correspondent Leland Vittert was on the scene of where the supposed shooting had taken place. As Leland spoke with a woman who claimed to be a witness, reports lasted about thirty minutes, discussing how the Baltimore police had allegedly shot a man. Stating that a crowd had gathered after the African-American man hit the ground, police had to then spray the crowd with pepper spray and set up their, recently too-well-known, riot formations. Standing from across the street, Leland and his witness “Tiffany” accounted the events that Baltimore residents standing around the streets, believed had happened. As several onlookers stared at the Metro PCS building, the witness described how Baltimore police had shot the man in the back, which caused protests in the area, though back at the station anchors wondered if they did in fact shoot the man or were just involved in an altercation. During the on scene report, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who was back at the station, intercepted Leland stating what the police were saying and giving him suggestions of questions to ask the witness, as they worked to gather all of the facts.
Police were working to protect the crime scene, as many people in the area rushed around to where the man had supposedly been shot, and were getting angry with Baltimore police in the area. A key piece of evidence, a gun which was laying on the ground, was guarded by a police officer who was standing over it. This gun, seen in the video, was supposedly the one that the suspect was holding before he took off running. Baltimore police officers state that the gun went off when it hit the ground, after the suspect dropped it. Mike Tobin came on the scene about six and a half minutes into the report, stating that he did see a gun on the sidewalk, believed to have belonged to the suspect.
Tobin stated on scene that the African-American man did not look good, as the police rolled him to the ambulance, but police reports stated that no one was injured and that the man was only taken to the ambulance for cautionary measures. Baltimore police were adamant about trying to assure residents that the African-American man was not shot. They stated that the only reason they apprehended the boy was because he was wielding a hand gun, which they claim they saw on security cameras. Tobin stated that he did not see blood on the street, did not see a wound on the man, and only heard one shot. Shepard Smith, said that he wondered if witnesses did not just jump to conclusions because the man fell to the ground after the shot. He stated that this man could have fell to the ground after the gun went off for safety measures.
Shepard Smith sent out a long video apologizing, stating that Fox News screwed up. Initially Smith stated that he believed Tobin, who he has worked with for a long time, would not report something that he did not believe, and he even brought in statements about how the witnesses were crying because they believed that the man had been shot. Tobin later also defended his initial report, stating that it is hard to determine exactly what happened, in the midst of chaos and with conflicting witness reports.
The Baltimore police shot a man in the back, or did they? Though initial reports claimed that the police had shot the African-American man, as he was running away, the police later claimed that no one was shot, and that a gun that the suspect supposedly had on him, accidentally went off when it hit the ground. After all that Baltimore has been through after the incident with Freddie Gray, in which six officers are now being charged with his death, it is natural that the city would be a bit uneasy. Though they are slowly starting to calm down and rebuild, Baltimore residents are still not trusting of police. Police may have shot a man in the back, or Baltimore residents could just be claiming they did after a gun shot was heard, and un-trusting residents rushed to conclusions.
By Crystal Boulware