Police Rage at WSB-TV'S Cop-Killer Story

Some Atlanta police officers are furious with WSB/Channel 2 and reporter Tom Jones for the station's coverage of the slaying of a police officer by a convicted felon last Saturday in Adair Park.

"There is an overwhelming amount of outrage," said Officer Richard Straut, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Police Benevolent Association. Officers sent e-mails urging people to contact WSB/Channel 2 to protest the story about the slaying of Officer Mark Cross, 31, a member of the Red Dog Squad, the elite, commando-style unit that has drawn criticism in the past for aggressive tactics. One anonymous e-mail urged officers to demand Jones' job.

Police say Cross was gunned down by 19-year-old Brandon Leon Williams, who also wounded Officer Andy Griffin. A third officer returned fire, killing Williams.

The WSB/Channel 2 report relied heavily on witnesses who said Williams was trying to turn his life around. One witness told the station that the officers "looked like a robbing crew, how they jumped out [of their car]."

Straut asked how Williams, previously convicted of manslaughter, could be turning his life around if he had a gun and drugs in his car. A passenger was charged with possession of marijuana. Straut also said there was no doubt Williams knew Cross was a police officer: He and the other two officers were dressed in Red Dog fatigues and were in a marked police car.

"The whole line of the story that Tom Jones did was this poor, pitiful kid just got shot down by the police," added Sgt. Scott Kreher, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 623. "He interviewed people up and down Lexington Avenue without any talk about the officer and the two kids he left behind."

In fact, the WSB/Channel 2 story did briefly mention that Cross left a wife and two children.

Though Straut and Kreher offered their opinions, they stressed that the e-mails were being sent by individual officers, not as part of an organized campaign.

WSB/Channel 2 Managing Editor Mike Dreaden did not return calls from CL by press time.


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