Police Use Denver TV Chopper for Manhunt While Stations Air Footage

By Kevin Eck 

Questions over the separation between journalists and police are popping up in Colorado after Boulder cops used a helicopter shared by four TV stations to help apprehend a shooting suspect during a manhunt.

The Daily Camera reports Boulder Police were searching for Russell Daniels, a shooting suspect, and asked Denver P.D. for aerial help. When they didn’t hear back and the FBI offered to help later in the day, they asked the pool helicopter to take an officer airborne to help find the suspect.

“We knew that the media helicopter takes off from (Jefferson County) every day at 6 a.m.,” said Boulder P.D. spokesperson Shannon Cordingly. “I was able to talk to reporters, who talked to their news desk, and we were able to coordinate that the helicopter landed in Boulder. They were able to pick up one of our officers, and that way, we could better search the area for him.”

While a statement from NBC affiliate KUSA said that the pilot, who works for Helicopters Inc. and not one of the local stations, made the decision to help out, TVSpy found all the affiliated stations used footage from the helicopter in their reporting.

ABC affiliate KMGH let viewers know an officer was up in their chopper while CBS-owned station KCNC told viewers its Copter 4 was assisting in the manhhunt. The KDVR and KUSA websites had the story which showed the Fox and NBC affiliates also used the chopper.

Click here to see the KMGH coverage.

From KCNC:

From KDVR:

From KUSA:

“The helicopter was instrumental. … An invaluable resource,” said Cordingly. “It was really a win-win, too, for both sides, because we were able to quickly apprehended Mr. Daniels, and the media, being with us, was able to see and tell the story as it was unfolding, which doesn’t normally happen from a bird’s-eye view.”

KDVR reporter Jim Hooley let people know his station was helping out with the tweet below.

“News organizations should decline this request,” Denver-based ABC News correspondent Clayton Sandell tweeted back. “Journalists are not agents of law enforcement.”

From The Daily Camera:

Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said the city did not “coerce” 9News or the pilot into any sort of agreement, but rather saw an opportunity that would assist in the pursuit of resolving a dangerous, dynamic situation peacefully.

“The Boulder Police Department understands and respects the sometimes distinct roles that law enforcement and the media play in our community,” city officials said in news release praising the Denver TV stations for their help. “In this case, there was a shared interest in public safety and preventing harm to others, and we thank the Denver media network for considering this unique set of circumstances and assisting police.”