Highland Park police seem to have a pretty strong case that they were justified inshooting David Hartman last summer
Granted, they should have done a more thorough search of his cargo pants, which contained a gun, and made sure he couldn't slip his handcuffs over his legs and reach his pockets, but as a general rule, when a suspect starts firing shots from inside a squad car, returning fire is a reasonable response.
Dash-cam and in-car videos from the incident show this all very well, and your average police department would be content simply to provide unedited copies to the media.
The Highland Park Department of Public Safety, however, is not your average police department. To better present their version of events, they produced what is essentially a nine-minute segment from America's Most Wanted, complete with actors, a voice-over, and sepia-toned reenactments, all punctuated by explanatory clips of an authoritative talking-head interview with the Public Safety Director Chris Vinson.
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Highland Park DPS spokesman Lance Koppa said the department wanted to put events in their proper context and capture what it felt like for a woman to be followed into her driveway by a strange, menacingly bald man on a motorcycle. Since Highland Park DPS is a law enforcement agency, with neither the time nor expertise to produce high-quality documentary videos, they farmed it out to the Margulies Communications Group.
As far as propaganda goes, this is top-notch. It's hard to watch without cheering on Hartman's two shooters, Sergeant Charles McGinnis and Officer David Peacock, as heroic defenders of freedom.
It's also hard to watch without wondering how magical it must be to live in a town so loaded that it can hire a professional PR firm to turn a couple of dash-cam videos into full-scale multimedia productions.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.