To hear USA Today affiliate reporter Duke Behnke tell it, he’s got quite the scandal on his hands.
Behnke thinks he’s caught several small town police departments in a conspiracy to cover up the death of a hostage during a kidnapping.
Let’s make no mistake: the shooting of Michael L. Funk by officers was horrific. Funk escaped from hostage-taker Brian T. Flatoff, ran out the back door of Eagle Nation Cycles in Neenah, Wisconsin, only to be shot to death by police in the narrow alley behind the building in a case of mistaken identity.
But Behnke is now alleging that there is a multi-agency criminal conspiracy, based upon what he chooses to see in this video.
Behnke provocatively claims:
Video: Funk Shot Without Warning
Police officers gave hostage Michael L. Funk no warning to drop his handgun before they shot and killed him Dec. 5 outside Eagle Nation Cycles, according to video evidence obtained exclusively by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
A prepared statement that was issued by Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson about 10 hours after the shooting said Funk was shot after he didn’t obey police commands to drop his handgun.
In addition, the criminal complaint against accused hostage-taker Brian T. Flatoff stated Menasha police officer Raymond Berna heard officers yell, “Police, show me your hands” or “Police, drop the gun” before officers shot Funk.
The video, which was recorded by a dashboard camera of a Neenah police car, contradicts those statements.
Wilkinson told The Associated Press that the initial information about Funk ignoring orders was from witness interviews, but that the video appears to show there were no warnings given. Wilkinson also told the AP that officers are not required to give warnings.
Like so many on our anti-police media these days, Behnke is apparently hoping to catapult himself into the spotlight (and maybe a better job) by making a sensational claim of police violence and corruption.
Unfortunately, the video doesn’t show what Behnke claims it does.
More accurately, it doesn’t say what Behnke claims it says.
It doesn’t say anything.
We’ve shown a number of videos of officer involved shooting here at Bearing Arms, and the vast majority of them show constant communication among officers and with dispatchers before, during, and after incidents. The chatter is constant.
And yet, none of the officers on the scene in the video above make a sound before, during, or after the shooting.
That is what we call a “clue.”
Watch the video again, and you’ll note that the squad car dashcam filming the event which Behnke claims as his only source of “evidence” refuting multiple eyewitness statements is an appreciable distance away from the actual scene of the shooting.
It’s all but impossible to discern the exact distance from the dash camera to the scene of the shooting thanks to perspective issues. Fortunately, we have Google Maps to help give us a better idea of where the police car was in relation to the back door of Eagle Nation Cycles. The red circle (drawn using my high-tech MS Paint skills) shows the approximate position of the squad car which filmed the video. The orange circle shows the position of Mr. Funk.
I’m going to estimate that the distance between the squad car and the scene of the shooting is approximately 50 yards.
You can do your own distance estimates, if you’d like.
It’s my contention that the dash camera didn’t catch anything other than distant sounds of gunfire and subsequent radio traffic (heard because of the in-car radio), because it simple was too far away to catch the sounds of Funk slamming through the door of Eagle Nation Cycles, the shouted commands reported by multiple officers, and exclamations of surprise and fear you would expect from anyone and everyone near the scene of the shooting.
Duke Behnke is basing his claims of a multiple law enforcement agency conspiracy based solely on the capability of an in-car dash camera to capture audio half a football field away.
I wouldn’t want to be him right now.