Stations O.K. reporter impersonation, helicopter use in police
NEVADA–A Las Vegas television station allowed police to pose as its reporters in mid-May so that they could enter a Henderson apartment during a hostage standoff. Another station agreed to help distract the gunman with its helicopter.
Seven hours into a standoff with James Everfield, who had taken his ex-girlfriend and her children hostage, Henderson Police asked KVBC-TV Channel 3 officials if they would fly their helicopter over the apartment complex to cause a loud distraction while the Special Response Team drilled a hole in the wall to install a fiber optic camera to monitor Everfield’s movements and the safety of the children. The station agreed and the helicopter passed over the building several times.
Later, after seeing a KTNV-TV Channel 13 van on the street outside the building, Everfield asked to speak to a cameraman in the doorway of the apartment. Police Captain Mike Mayberry then asked KTNV Channel 13 news director Ed Chapuis if the station’s cameraman would go to the apartment with two SRT officers posing as reporters.
Photojournalist Erich Albl volunteered to go with the officers, but Chapuis refused to allow him to go out of concerns for his safety. Instead Chapuis permitted two officers to use the station’s camera and represent themselves as KTNV staff, but Everfield recognized one of the officers and refused to open the door.
Chapuis later said Everfield had blocked the apartment door with a refrigerator and the police were hoping to gain access when Everfield moved the refrigerator to allow the reporters in.
Chapuis said he was faced with a difficult decision but believes that he made the right choice. Faced with the ethical dilemma of the responsibility of journalists not to misrepresent themselves versus their responsibility as members of the community, Chapuis decided, with Mayberry’s counsel, that letting the officers pose as reporters was the best way to ensure the safety of the children.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, Everfield was under investigation for allegations of child abuse and had been told by the Henderson police to stay away from his girlfriend’s residence. The Henderson police were notified that Everfield had returned to her apartment by the complex’s manager.
The standoff ended after SWAT team officers stormed the apartment, rescued the two children, who were unharmed, and arrested Everfield.