Up for Debate: Graphic photos of NYC shooting

Friday, August 24, 2012 at 5:40pm

Two people were killed and several others were injured following a shooting outside of the Empire State Building in New York Friday morning. In the process of reporting on the shooting, The New York Times ran a graphic photo of one of those shot dead on a sidewalk — a submitted photo that showed blood spilling from the apparent targeted victim of the shooting. Click here for a Poynter article discussing the choice to publish the photos, complete with an explanation from the paper. The Times also ran a photo, though more abstract, of the suspected shooter, who had been shot and killed by authorities. Reuters also ran a slideshow of similar photos on its website Friday.

What are your thoughts on the decisions to publish these photos? Do they add to the public discourse (on gun control, for example), or simply grab attention? Does publishing the photos do a disservice to the dead and their families? Would you have published them?

Filed under: City Voices
Tagged: Up for Debate

56 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 8/24/12 at 5:00

Well, you know what they say,? "A picture is worth a thousand words."

By: Rasputin72 on 8/24/12 at 5:00

Well, you know what they say,? "A picture is worth a thousand words."

By: parnell3rd on 8/24/12 at 9:23

Really? the Nashville City Paper is concerned about graphic pictures? Not the fact that NYC police were such bad shots that they shot innocent bystanders. The fact that in NYC handguns are illegal and all Mayor Bloomberg has to say this is an unfortunate incident. That is all this liberal paper is worried about. Give me a break! The Nashville City Paper is so biased, you must want to be just like the Tennessean newpaper.

Somebody needs to go to NYC and show the police how to shot the threat and not innocent people.

By: parnell3rd on 8/25/12 at 5:23

According to Mayor Bloomberg, handguns causes crime. If that is true then why do NYC police and rich liberal's own handguns? The Police under his logic should be issued shotguns and rifle's.

By: dargent7 on 8/25/12 at 5:52

I read about this in USA Today. No photos were published. The story was the ex-employee ambushed the vice president, shot him in the head, then stood over him and shot him 4 more times. Then walked away, calmly.
But, the two cops were walking the sidewalk, came up upon Johnson who drew the gun. They were within 3 feet of Johnson and still hit 9 other people? NINE!
That sounds absurd. They need a desk job and some target practice.

By: yogiman on 8/25/12 at 6:08

Those officers were within three feet of that gunman and hit nine bystanders? Wonder where those officers were trained to fire a handgun. Did any of those bullets go through the gunman? If not, who were they shooting at?

Could it be because they were scared they were going to be hit and were shaking like hell? And they're officers?

By: yogiman on 8/25/12 at 6:22

Just wondering, parnell3rd,

How many guns have killed some one in NCY. Fortunately, here in Tennessee we haven't let our guns become murderers.

I can only think of two ways a gun a gun can kill someone: A human being pulled the trigger or someone dropped it and caused it to go off. And even if they dropped it, it was still the human's fault.

Oh, wait, a dog or cat might have pulled that trigger depending on the strength of the pull or caused it to fall off the table. I don't belief a horse could pull it because their hoofs are too big to get to the trigger.

So yep, I guess it's the guns fault.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/25/12 at 10:09

I think most cops are cowards at heart. They are really better at intimidating a motorist with no arrest record for doing 50 mph in a 35 zone.

When they confront a real threat like the guy in New York who decided to shoot back most likely the gun was firing as they shook like a dog sh--ing peach seeds.

By: Ask01 on 8/25/12 at 10:29

Police have formulated the fantasy a state of war exists between them and the public. They attempt to legitimize and pereptuate this fantasy, drawing in the uninformed public by repeating ad nauseum the matra of a "war on police" and "putting life on the line daily."

To be clear, the job of a cop entails all manner of potential danger. Suffering a heart attack, or stroke, from overindulging in high calorie and high fat foods, combined with insufficient exercise, infected papercut, traffic accidents, (many in which they are at fault,) why, they might even on a rare circumstance encounter some one with a weapon intent on harming them.

Consider the number of law enforcement employees around the country and how many were killed at work. Now, how many of those involved actual confrontation with an armed suspect?

I believe, unless I misread, 2011 was the safest year for law enforcement regarding actual confrontation with suspects for many decades.

That said, the police must be actually believing the fantasies, causing them to quake with uncontrollable fear and fire randomly, since after all, everyone there not wearing a uniform is out to get them, they must be exercising pre emptive strikes.

Law enforcement, from my prespective, is out of control in many places, becoming more and more militarized, adopting a survival mode as opposed to a serve and protect the public mentality.

Perhaps truth in advertising laws could be used to force removal of "Protect and serve," from so many LEO vehicles changing the motto to "To harrass, intimidate, and survive at all costs."

Just a thought.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/25/12 at 10:39

If I go by the ramblings of yogi and his clone p3, you would think that the Key Stone Cops had been shooting. I have eyes of my own and have looked at other angles. The police were more than three feet away, from the subject. The flower pots look to be about 8 to 10 feet apart, making the police in and around that far or farther. The wounded bystanders were hit by fragments from the flower pots and other objects.

I think under the circumstance, the police did a good job of the situation and with no innocents being injured worse.

BTW I think that the graph should be shown and let he public see the reality of life.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/25/12 at 10:47

I suppose that what I have read from others today, they are talking from experience?

By: yogiman on 8/25/12 at 11:25

A picture is nothing like human presence, dumbo.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/25/12 at 11:35

Too bad your presence is zero, yogi.

By: Ask01 on 8/25/12 at 11:49

I cannot speak for the other, Captain Nemo, but when we performed our annual firearms qualification, the in classroom, academic portion always stressed acquiring your target, confirming your target, and being certain there would be no collateral damage.

That meant to me to be sure no innocents were in the line of fire. We were armed for protection of the aircraft, passengers and classified cargo. The assumption being if we needed to actually engage someone, the confrontation would occur in flight, or in an area with hazardous items nearby, so being sure you were only targetting at whom you were aiming was sort of important.

If a gaggle of aircrew had such precautions drilled incessantly, I would expect law enforcement workers to likewise, or to a greater degree, be trained to not endanger the public they supposedly serve and protect , even if they themselves are at risk.

Excellent comeback for the other poster, by the way. Thumbs up!

By: Captain Nemo on 8/25/12 at 12:30

Ask01, you maybe the only one that knows what they are talking about in this matter, so I will respect your opinion. However I can not help but to think of what was going on in the mind of the cops at that moment, to be faced with a gunman that just shot a man only a few minuets before. He could be another mass murder. I still think they did the best they could at the moment.

Thanks about the come back, but he does it for me. He's a great straight man. lol

By: Ask01 on 8/25/12 at 1:10

I see you point Captain Nemo, I just feel people who are supposedly trained to function in a highly stressed environment should exercise better judgement. That said, the barrel of a weapon pointed at you can assume the dimensions of garbage can. the best is probably to let the investigation play out.

Have a great day. Time to go shopping.

By: yogiman on 8/25/12 at 1:44

Sadly, what you learn from normal training and how you react in a (what you trained for) situation is entirely different in many cases, Ask01

By: Ask01 on 8/26/12 at 6:42

Curiously, Captain Nemo, just to clarify, I've found if properly trained, an individual often draws upon that training in stressful situations, going on autopilot and performing as trained. Training, though, is not enough. A certain level of professionlism and clarity of vision is required.

I know from experience that in an aircraft emergency, you put aside fear and follow your checklist, performing the items as required, trying to keep the aircraft aloft.

I had a student who totally lost composure, requiring securing in a jump seat while I ran the checklist, so I acknowledge some people will fail miserably when confronted with reality.

We handled the situation, declared an emergency as required, and landed safely, but the point of this rambling post is, for the benefit of others, to illustrate the importantce of proper training and intense psychological screening. Particularly when entrusting someone with weapons and authority.

By: parnell3rd on 8/26/12 at 7:11

Just shows the hypocrocy of Mayor Bloomberg. He needs to:
A. Train policemen to shoot. A NYC police report just issued shows they hit their targets 34% of the time.
B. Make police just like law abbiding citizens and take their guns too.
C. Mind his own damn business about gun sales in Tennessee!!

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/12 at 10:32

Ask01, I think there is a degree of difference in the training to fly a plane and being a cop and one little mistake could be fatal. The emergency in the air the pilot is locked in the cockpit and no civilian distractions. A pilot has to deal with sounding klaxons and flashing lights, while the police in the NY shooting had cars people moving randomly in an out of their sight and I think that the first officer was looking at a civilian trying to get them to safety.

I won’t argue with you that there may have been a better solution than what took place, but under the circumstance it turned out very good. You and I can go on with this line of debate, but the fact is we don’t know the full story yet.

By: Ask01 on 8/26/12 at 12:10

Agreed, Captain.

I still believe better training is indicated, but we do need the entire story to engage in more than just speculative debate.

For now, the friendly debate can stand with an agree to disagree.

It is so refreshing to have an intelligent discussion rising above petty insults and vulgarities. Thanks.

Have a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/12 at 12:49

Your welcome Ask01.

By: dargent7 on 8/27/12 at 4:47

If you google, "NYC shooting" you can watch the whole scene for yourself.
The cops were 6, maybe 8 feet away from the guy. Johnson was stationary, standing still, not running down the sidewalk, zig-zaging, trying to escape.
16 rounds fired and 9 missed the target. That's pathetic. I think a Police officer should be able to hit a large stationary target 25 feet away.
Those two cops need admin. desk jobs and some serious target practice.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 5:16

As far as releasing the photos...we should be desensitized to this...I mean most action movies are more graphic...watch a good zombie movie, a few gunshots are like a small laceration in comparison. As with anything, if you don't want to see it, don't look at it.

As far as the "shootout", I haven't seen the video but it sounds like the cops couldn't hit the broad side of barn. Where's Dirty Harry when you need him?

Of course, the underlying issue is that it's so easy, in this nation, to be disgruntled about something and take a few people with you...

It's getting to the point you shouldn't look anyone in the eye, you never know, they could have just been fired...or received a bad grade...or on the way to see a movie...


By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 5:32

By: Rasputin72 on 8/25/12 at 11:02
Yogi......If it were not for your constant and persistent posts there would be a lot of shut ins and low income and free stuff people without a forum to vent their unhappiness.

So you consider your self a shut in and free stuff people, Rasputin.

By: bfra on 8/27/12 at 5:43

By: yogiman on 8/26/12 at 4:15

I have some bad news for you, Rasputin72, your water (finances) will never sink as low as your counter posters on this site unless they win the lottery.
Neno - I thought this one funny! The whatever, that doesn't even know who the President is, much less, which end is up, but knows the financial status of ALL posters on this site.

By: dargent7 on 8/27/12 at 6:04

Oh, to answer the question posed, no, I wouldn't publish them. All I saw is the typical one where police are standing around a white sheet covering the dead person(s). Showing a guy's bloody head is overreach.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 6:10


Being in the basement cave as yogi, I suppose that he see a lot of dripping water.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 6:21

Looks like that hurricane is repeating the track of Katrina...for all the joking about the storm and the RNC, this is no joking matter.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 6:28

Rasputin wants us to believe that he is selective about his distain for people not in his income bracket, yet his post say otherwise.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/26/12 at 3:13
My Good Captain.......My disdain is not for those of less income is not because they have less income but because they want me to make up the difference between their income and mine.

I merely want water to seek its OWN level.i

Hence yogi chimes in with one of his meaningless babbles.

By: parnell3rd on 8/27/12 at 6:28

NCP 3 days is long enough, change the topic! Thanks for taking Burch's propaganda down!!

By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 6:35

I like Burch comments, they usually brings out the drool form p3 and the likes. It is always good to hear from the right.

By: bfra on 8/27/12 at 6:43

Nemo - Agree! Burch seems to be better informed than the usual troll on this site!

By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 6:47

Trolls are never informed, they are dripped on.

By: slacker on 8/27/12 at 6:58

People are fascinated with macabre scenes (Dexter starts back Sept. 26th.) but out of respect for the deceased and his family, (which no longer exists in todays society) they shouldn't have shown the victim uncovered.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 7:01

Some of the most iconic photography of the 20th century were of the recently deceased (you can be published, it's in the handbook).

By: slacker on 8/27/12 at 7:13

I've got $50 dollars that says.. todays Randy Travis arrest occurs before 3pm.

By: slacker on 8/27/12 at 7:26

All takers send wager to:
Slacker Inc.
Brooklyn Bridge, N.Y.

By: govskeptic on 8/27/12 at 7:34

The photos are published to sell papers within a dying industry. A bigger
question is the shoot out in a super crowded area, where it's been
pointed out that all 9 bystanders were shot by the Police. Yes, none were
killed but that was all luck. What is not clear is: These two officers were
alerted as to this fellows earlier actions. They started following him. Did
he see them and pull the gun which forced their action at that moment and
place, or did they call him out and then he pulled the gun. If so, could they
not have followed him to a slightly more remote area. Just saying----

By: slacker on 8/27/12 at 8:01

skeptic, my plan would be.. to sneak up on 'em.. and try out my new taser gun on his arse. No?

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 8:07

A slightly more remote area...in NYC?

By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 8:27

Sitting behind a computer make hindsight seem easy as to what took place, gov. The man just killed another and there were innocent s in the mans path. Should they wait to see if he would have shot another. What if they had done nothing, would the debate be about that they did nothing?

Now as to the injured I think it was fragments and not being hit directly by the cops.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/27/12 at 8:29

I'm sure there will be more to this as time goes on and no matter what there will some who won't be satisfied to the out come.

By: dargent7 on 8/27/12 at 9:16

From all reports, the two cops were on typical sidewalk patrol. They heard the 5 gunshots, close proximity, half a block away.
Ran to that area when Johnson turned and pulled out his gun aiming it at them.
They knew then he was a / the shooter. Brilliant Police work, fellows.
re: dead people...
I didn't really need to see Saddam's two sons laid out on cement slabs back in 2003 to know they were dead. It's like the USA postured it as a trophy photo-op.
But, the Bush admin. was so ignorant, dumb and stupid to not realize doing so only inflamed Arab's intent on hating and killing us.
And making all this hay about "the killing of bin Laden" who, at 70+ old and gray, living with a B&W tv, puts him in the martyr status.
The Mid-East, it's people, religion, and customs, is NOTHING like America.
The USA trying to mold and fashion them into our system is a 100% waste of lives, energy, time, and money.
Republicans just don't get that. Or, does Romney, our next President.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 9:33

Laying out Saddam's kids to confirm their death is no different than doing the same for Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde. It's not like that was the first time it's ever been done, either.

No matter the cause of death, Bin Laden would have been considered a martyr. Choosing not to show his corpse was more about protecting are people over there than trying to mold them into our system.

On the my corpse is more important than yours scale, Bin Laden trumps Saddams kids by about a million.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 9:35

s/h/b our

By: budlight on 8/27/12 at 10:47

It did a disservice to the families of the vets coming home to publish their coffins AND it is a disservice to families who lose loved ones in these types of random killings.

Taking legal guns off the streets will not avoid these types of crimes. Criminals will always be able to get weapons. Police can be trained all day and all night, but only in an actual event will one be able to determine how the training worked. All people are different and respond differently.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 11:45

How is it a disservice to the families/vets to have a picture of a flag-drapped coffin in the paper? It's a disservice to them and to the American public to not show the cost of war.

By: bfra on 8/27/12 at 12:26

Bush/Cheney did not want the American people to be aware of all the deaths they were causing with their ill achieved war, based on lies. Bud & ilk will make up any kind of excuse for all the lies, deaths & coverups of that 8 yr. debacle.

By: dargent7 on 8/27/12 at 12:54

Bush/ Cheney wouldn't allow photos taken of the returning soldier's coffins in the C-17 transport.
Rumsfeld also said, "We don't do body counts..."( for their side).
Displaying two dead sons for the Internet is another reason we're still embroiled in this Middle East mess 20 years later.
And showing the hanging of Saddam was a typical pea-brain Bush idea. He actually thought that would intimidate them into submission.
These people have NO problem stuffing dynamite up their asses and lighting the fuse. Praying all the way to 72 virgins.
Not a bad idea, thinking it about myself. I'd consider myself luck to get only 36.