St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a column on Monday that apologized to the family and friends of murdered North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf for sharing the heartbreaking video of the officer’s last moments alive on the newspaper's website.
“Our newspaper apologizes to the Langsdorf family, members of law enforcement and our readers for making a major mistake in covering a tragedy,” the newspaper wrote.
The video in question was filmed on Facebook Live by a store employee immediately after Officer Langsdorf was shot and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shared a link to it on their news website before some of the officer’s family had even been notified that he was shot.
Officer Langsdorf, 40, was murdered after he responded to Clay’s Food Market in Wellston at about 4:30 p.m. on June 24 for a report of a customer trying to cash a bad check, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The officer struggled with the suspect, who ultimately used his pistol to beat the officer on the head to break free of his hold
“Officer Langsdorf was on the ground face down, stomach down… he pointed the gun at the back of Officer Langsdorf’s head and fired one shot,” North County Police Cooperative Major Ron Martin described at a press conference on Monday.
Police have arrested 26-year-old Bonette Kymbrelle Meeks and charged him with the officer’s murder.
Meeks fled the store after he shot Officer Langsdorf and a customer inside the store rushed to his aid.
An employee of the store, Kashina Harper, pulled out her phone and began filming a Facebook livestream video of the officer dying on the ground.
But Harper told KMOV that she tried to help the officer before she made the video.
“I got from behind the door and ran to the officer, and got on his walkie talkie. I said, 'An officer's been shot at 6250 Page. Please come, he’s hurt bad,” she said.
Harper said she thought she was doing a good deed by filming what had happened, never imagining that the officer would actually die.
She claimed that she posted the video live with the best intentions in the hope that more people would call 911.
“The only reason why I put it on Facebook was for him to get justice. I didn’t know he was going to get killed and I just wanted him to know when they take that man to trial, he knows what he did and how much pain he put this man through,” Harper said.
The video has since been taken down, but the woman who posted it said she has received numerous threats.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch admitted in its apology column that the newspaper made “a serious error in judgment” but then several paragraphs later seemed to try to mitigate responsibility by pointing out that an editor, not a reporter, posted the link to the video of the officer dying.
However, the fact that an editor published the link to the horrifying video is more egregious than if a reporter had made the error.
“The Post-Dispatch newsroom demands its journalists follow high ethical standards,” the newspaper wrote. “Although done without malice, this judgment error failed to meet our ethical standards. The Post-Dispatch editors are reviewing and re-emphasizing ethical standards that we must use when linking and sharing online content.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch went on to say that they have embraced “ethical standards set by the Society of Professional Journalists, which include to ‘minimize harm’ and ‘show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage.’”
However, in this particular case, the editor responsible for publishing the link to the video of the officer’s last breaths obviously gave no consideration to those affected, such as Officer Langsdorf’s family and loved ones, most of whom had not been notified that their hero was down when the newspaper shared the video.
The newspaper has not released any information regarding the employment status of the editor responsible.