Paul Pelton is innocent: police charge man who filmed dying teenager with mobile phone
Paul Pelton is accused of “vehicular trespassing”. But what he did is a question of morals. When Pelton saw a car accident he went over to check it out. The Honda sedan had jumped railway tracks and hit a house.
Mr Pelton did not try to help the stricken driven, one Zachary Goodin, or his passenger, Cameron Friend, who later died in hospital. He just piuleld out his mobile phone and pressed ‘record’ At one point he opened a car door to film inside.
He then tried to sell the video.
Detective Buddy Sivert, of Lorain police, says:
“We searched to try to find anything to charge him with. It is not a crime to stick a camera where a kid is dying or try to sell it. He went right in after the crash, before the rescuers or police arrived.”
According to the Media Group quoting a police report: “He opened a back door and leaned in to film the boys and then walked around to the front door as he continued recording. At no time did he try to help either of the boys.”
Denise White, who lived close to the accident, told WOIO television that she was trying to help the teenagers and saw Mr Pelton filming.
“To take that video and put it on Facebook, it just shows you have no principles. It’s disgusting,” she told the station. The dead boy’s “mom probably had to see that,” she said.
Police produce a statement:
“The Lorain police department would like to remind citizens that they are allowed and encouraged to help one another in emergencies if they can do so safely, and that rendering aid or comfort to a dying young man and his severely injured friend is a commendable and kindly act.
“Persons are not, however, allowed to trespass into a person’s vehicle criminally and without permission for the seemingly singular cause of filming a young man’s dying moments, for profit.”
Fine if he gives it way for no profit, then? Fine if a TV crew films the scene and sells it to a TV station that punctuates the news with ads (or is it vice versa?). Not fine if a citizen journalist does it. Not fine if the injured are in a car and not in a foreign field.
What if Mr Pelton had called the emergency services first and then filmed the scene? Would that still be a crime?