It is the job of the journalist to be the watchdog for society. They are here to call out the wrongs and point out the rights. You learn this in any Journalism 101 or Media Studies/Mass Communication 101 class.

Kate Mather is an LA Times reporter covering news involving the Los Angeles Police Department. She does an excellent job of presenting both the good and the bad.

Recently, Mather reported on an LAPD shooting involving a man alleged to have thrown a 40-ounce bottle at the back of a police car, shattering the window.

Two Los Angeles police officers were stopped at a red light in Van Nuys when the back window of their patrol car shattered.

Fearing they were under fire, the officers bailed out of the cruiser and fired their own guns at a nearby man they believed was responsible, killing him, LAPD officials said.

When investigators searched his body and the nearby scene, they didn’t find a gun or any other weapon, police said Monday. Instead, they determined that he had shattered the patrol car’s window by throwing a 40-ounce beer bottle.

 

The Times editorial board took the LAPD to task in an editorial titled “Shot to death for throwing a bottle?

Whenever someone dies at the hands of police, we owe it to the officers as well as the public to have a full and open accounting. This is all the more important now, when there’s a bitter national debate over police shootings of unarmed men and a growing rift between the city’s officers and its residents — and when another person has been killed by police under troubling circumstances.

Few facts about this latest incident have been released to the public. Two Los Angeles Police Department officers in a patrol car were stopped at a light at Victory and Van Nuys boulevards Saturday night when a 40-ounce beer bottle crashed through the back window. The officers got out and shot to death a man who they thought threw the bottle. That’s it. The police haven’t even disclosed the dead man’s name.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck responded in the Opinion section of The Times today:

The LAPD publicly discloses more information about its uses of force than any police agency in the country. We provide preliminary information at the scene, we routinely issue press statements with additional details, and we publicly disclose detailed reports with the facts, analysis and findings in each case.

Some questions, like whether the shooting was in policy or what was the name of the decedent, cannot be answered within hours of an incident. Our civilian Board of Police Commissioners must determine whether an officer-involved shooting is consistent with our high standards, but only after a thorough investigation and analysis is completed.

This is what happens when you do good journalism. You hold people accountable and make them answer for their actions.

We need more of this from our media.