(Natural News) The reality show Live PD, which follows police officers around as they go on patrol, has been accused of crossing several ethical boundaries in order to get dramatic footage. In this case, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) in central Texas is accused of intentionally letting a suspect leave court just so they can get the opportunity to use a SWAT team to raid his home.
Live PD began airing in 2016 and was cancelled following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent wave of engineered rioting, civil unrest and anti-police sentiment that have gripped the nation.
The event in question occurred on May 2, 2019 and it features Asher Watsky, the suspect, who has come forward alleging that the sheriff’s office bypassed a chance to peacefully arrest him while he was in court and that the whole military-style raid was staged for the benefit of the reality show.
“The second I saw the cameras, I’m aware of the Live PD program, I figured out right then, I had a feeling what was going on,” said Watsky.
“It was all for TV. It was all for show,” said his father Gary, who owned the house, and who watched helplessly as the deputies burst into their home and arrested Watsky.
Watsky’s alleged offense involved him ending an argument with a former roommate by hitting the man with a shovel. On the day his house was raided, he had been to the Williamson County Justice Complex in the county seat of Georgetown.
The arrest was conducted three-and-a-half hours after Asher left the courthouse, where he went through security and sat several feet away from armed WCSO-affiliated law enforcement officials who could have arrested him right then and there. This view has been supported by Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick, who said that officials from the sheriff’s office confirmed that they removed Watsky’s arrest warrant from the record system so that nobody in the court would try to arrest him.
Several WCSO officials tried claiming that Watsky was a dangerous individual and that a SWAT raid on his home was safer than trying to arrest him while he was in court.
Nobody but a close circle of officers in the sheriff’s department knew that Watsky had a pending warrant. Even he did not know that he was wanted until the deputies burst into his father’s house and dragged him out in the middle of the night in handcuffs. (Related: HATE CRIME HOAX: Liberal county commissioner candidate in Oregon sent racist letter to himself to demonize conservatives.)
“Shopping for Live PD”
Three former investigators of the WCSO have claimed that, days before Live PD would come to Williamson County to film several episodes, it was not unusual for supervisors to urge officers to draw up arrest warrants so that these operations could be filmed even though the investigations were still ongoing.
These same officers believed the requests to rush out arrest warrants were unethical and that the desire to capture good stories for the show harmed the progress of their investigations.
Mike Klier, who worked for the WCSO’s special victims unit for and also served as the president of the Williamson County Deputies Association, referred to this behavior of rushing investigations as “shopping for Live PD.”
Klier recalls one child sex abuse case wherein he and a colleague were trying to get a suspect to confess by building a rapport with him when supervisors ordered them to move forward with the arrest. The suspect then refused to cooperate once he was jailed, which halted any progress they had on the investigation.
“You work really hard on these cases, and you are trying to make sure everything is perfect for them,” said Klier. “It puts your entire investigation at risk, not only for you but for the justice of the victim.”
Gil Unger, a former sheriff’s investigator, said that he recalls several cases wherein he wanted to collect more evidence before making an arrest. In two particular cases, he wanted to contact the suspects first, check their alibis and hear their side. However, his goal of due diligence and proper investigation was overruled when his supervisors wanted him to produce arrest warrants immediately.
“I didn’t like it at all,” Unger said. “I let my supervisors know, and I think the response was, ‘I know dude. That is the way it is.’”
Casey Daley, a former detective for the sheriff’s office, said that supervisors would regularly approach investigators and ask them to draw up “a juicy warrant, something that would look good on TV.”
Daley says that she and other detectives would routinely get suspects to surrender at the Williamson County Jail, which is right next to the courthouse. If they could not catch the suspects at the courthouse, she and other detectives would make the arrests themselves. She claims that her supervisors discouraged this practice after Live PD struck up a partnership with the WCSO, allegedly because they didn’t think it was safe.
“But we knew it wasn’t for our safety,” said Daley.
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