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Tue, Dec 01, 2009

News Chopper Pilot May Face Police Interference Charges

Seattle Television Station News Director May Also Be Charged

The pilot of a Seattle television station helicopter and the station's news director may be charged with interfering with a police investigation after four officers were killed Sunday in Lakewood, Washington.

The four officers were gunned down in a coffee shop Sunday morning before their shifts. During the investigation, Pierce County Sheriff's Office investigators say the KING-TV helicopter interfered with their investigation. Multiple media reports are not clear on exactly how that interference took place.

Television station KXTL in Sacramento, California, reports that Ed Troyer, spokesperson for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said department officials called the station multiple times to request that the helicopter be moved, but that those requests were ignored. "We need you, and we need the public's help," Troyer said in a news conference Sunday afternoon, "but we also can't risk having other people get hurt and having our operations jeopardized by a helicopter."

He went on to say that if the KING-TV helicopter showed up over the crime scene again, all media would be removed from the scene.

KING News Director Mark Ginther said the helicopter and pilot had honored every request that the chopper be moved, and that it had complied with all FAA regulations in covering the tragedy. Still, Troyer said the Pierce County prosecutor will look into what charges can be filed against the pilot and the news director.

FMI: www.co.pierce.wa.us/pc/abtus/ourorg/pa/prosecutorsoffice.htm

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