Fox News’ Shepard Smith apologizes for erroneous shooting report
(MediaIte) NEW YORK, N.Y. – Fox News anchor Shepard Smith apologized on-air Monday afternoon after his colleague Mike Tobin erroneously claimed to have witnessed a Baltimore police officer shoot a black man in the street.
Shortly after 2:45 pm. ET, Tobin called into Fox News’ The Real Story and told host Gretchen Carlson that he saw police officers chasing a man, and “as he was running away, that police officer drew his weapon and fired and struck the individual who was running away.”
Video showed the allegedly wounded man cuffed and being removed from the scene on a gurney, while an officer stood over a six-shooter on the sidewalk and colleagues secured the area with pepper spray guns.
Minutes later, the Baltimore Police Department officially disputed the claims that anyone was shot:
The reports of a man being shot at North and Pennsylvania Ave are NOT true. Officers have arrested a man for a handgun at the location – 3:23 PM – 4 May 2015
And so, on live television, about half-an-hour later, Tobin back-tracked on his story, telling Smith that he had only heard a single gunshot, and did not actually see anyone fire a weapon. There was a row of parked cars between him and the scene, he admitted.
The final nail in this story’s coffin came when on-the-ground reporter Leland Vittert caught up with a white-shirted officer (lieutenant or above in ranking), who definitively stated that there was no actual shooting victim. Police arrested the man for possessing the aforementioned revolver, and the gunshot noise was from when the man dropped the weapon.
Back in studio, a frustrated and stunned Shep Smith apologized to viewers for the chaotic and contradictory reporting that had just unfolded before their eyes (emphasis added):
Sounds like what happened is we screwed up…. Mike Tobin thought he saw somebody get shot. And there was a gun and a patient on a stretcher and there is would a woman who said she saw the cop gun him down and there’s going to be violence and all the rest of that. And what we have is nothing. And the truth is, according to police, there is no gunshot victim. [...]
These are not normal environs to most people — places where there are transactions on the street, as the woman put it. That’s not how everybody lives everyday. That’s not how Mike Tobin lives; and that’s not how Leland Vittert lives; and that’s not how our security guard lives. But from everything we’ve learned from that scene, over the past weeks, that is part of life there. And that’s part of the problem there. And a bunch of people who are trained at this sort of thing, saw it, and it wasn’t real.
And now something has been created there that is wrong, and unnecessary. We were wrong. Our people on scene were wrong. Theirs was an error that was honest and straightforward and our duty as journalists is not to make mistakes and when we make mistakes we are duty-bound to correct them immediately and as clearly as possible. So I’m now in correction mode and we apparently were wrong. Unless there’s new information that comes forward, all the information now points to there was a guy running down the street, gun fell in the street, gun went off; guy was taken into custody. He complained that he was injured or something.
They put him in an ambulance and, out of an an abundance of caution, the police are now telling us, they took him to the hospital. Nobody has been shot. No police officer has pulled the trigger. And on behalf of Mike Tobin and the rest of our crew there and he rest of us at Fox News, I am very sorry for the error and glad we were able to correct it quickly.