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Deputies Displeased

June 21, 1987

This is to let you know our displeasure at your reporting staff.

On May 24 and May 25, reporter Glenn F. Bunting ran an extensive series of articles on a shooting incident that occurred in the Santee area and involved undercover officers of the Sheriff's Department. These articles were so obviously biased and slanted that it should have been clear to most readers that Mr. Bunting had his mind made up and "don't confuse me with the facts."

First of all, an acquittal by a court or jury is not necessarily an indication that the suspect is innocent. It simply means that the evidence failed to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the person accused was guilty of the crime charged. Nowhere in this article does Mr. Bunting even insinuate that David Tollerson could have been even partly responsible for his own injury. Maybe the jury verdict was correct; maybe also, Tollerson did things or said things that aggravated his situation; maybe there was other "evidence" that changed the total picture.

Secondly, it is a clear cut case of irresponsible journalism to print the photographs of undercover officers and jeopardize not only current and future investigations, but clearly it could jeopardize the lives of these officers. The Government Code of the State of California even prevents the officers' own agency from releasing any type of photographs without the officers' permission. There may even be some questions about whether these evidentiary pictures should have been permitted to be viewed outside the courtroom. Where is the common sense of your reporters or the editorial staff?

These officers undergo heavy and strict scrutiny by their supervisors, scrutiny by their department's internal affairs division and scrutiny by the district attorney's office. One-sided and irresponsible reporting does nothing but make a sensational story. But I guess that's what it is all about--sell papers.

E.F. (SKIP) MURPHY

President

San Diego County Deputy Sheriff's Assn.

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