Franz Strasser & Tara McKelveyA Virginia condition authorities (VSP) officer pushed a reporter to delete footage regarding the scene where Vester Lee Flanagan crashed their automobile privately of a Interstate 66 on Wednesday after allegedly killing two television reporters in Virginia. The cop additionally threatened to really have the reporter's vehicle towed.
Franz Strasser, videos journalist with BBC (whom, full disclosure, we met at a summit in Summer), and his colleague Tara McKelvey were en route to Roanoke to report regarding shooting once they took place upon the crash web site near the little city of Linden, Virginia. They stopped to the median associated with highway and Strasser began moving.
"once we stumbled on a complete end I happened to be most likely 200 yards away, " he describes. "So I took my camera and I experienced the brush towards the police cars."
He says about several cop automobiles, lights flashing, surrounded the crashed gold automobile, but that the officers had been mainly simply standing around—until they saw him walking up.
"perhaps half dozen police officers began operating towards myself, " he states. "i possibly could hear all of them screaming, 'Get back to the automobile! Return to the automobile!'"
He retreated right back through the brush toward his vehicle where McKelvey was waiting, but a number of cops observed, shouting he had a need to "get regarding right here." One in specific (perhaps not pictured) ended up being aggravated.
"I became about to place my camera back the trunk whenever one officer shut the trunk, " he claims. "we looked at him and just thought, 'what are you doing?'" Strasser says the cop then informed him his vehicle was going to be towed if you are illegally parked and his camera seized because it "might consist of evidence." The VSP officer took the digital camera out of the reporter's arms.
Whenever Strasser said he was happy to go but that he needed his vehicle and digital camera to accomplish his work, the cop forced him to erase the footage he'd simply recorded very first. "He was extremely close to myself, looking at the display and seeking at each action I took, ensuring that used to do hit 'delete' and did hit 'submit, '" Strasser states. "pulling the car was not brought up again."
As Strasser tweeted right after it happened, "Reason for confiscating camera had been it was research. But why they truly are then fine with deleting 'evidence' makes one concern their particular thinking."
He claims VSP has assigned an officer from internal investigations unit into the case. He will speak to that officer in person on Monday. "At this stage, I do not wish to pass any judgment, " he states. "I'm actually delighted that Virginia State Police is looking into this."
A BBC representative in addition emailed me this declaration: "We've spoken to Virginia State Police, who have taken our issues extremely really, and then we are now waiting for the end result."
Strasser and also the BBC tend to be "pretty confident" they will be able to recuperate his erased video footage, which, since he held filming throughtout the confrontation, would at least provide a sound record that can assist investigators determine the rogue cop.
After leaving the the scene for the crash, he and McKelvey proceeded on to Roanoke, in which they produced an account for BBC regarding the shooting. "We honor the work of @WDBJ7 in this movie and text feature. Hats to you and how you handled things amid tragedy, " Strasser said in a tweet yesterday when it premiered.