CBS affiliate WCIA has apologized for airing an image Friday that depicted Darion Lafayette — who died after allegedly killing police officer Chris Oberheim and wounding another officer in a shootout in Champaign, Illinois — as an angel.
WCIA began its feature story on Lafayette with a family member saying, “He’s the most compassionate person who you will ever meet in your life, if you ever knew him.”
Anchor Jessica Kunz followed up, “And now they’re mourning him after he died in an exchange of gunfire with Champaign Police.”
As reported by Breitbart News, “According to Champaign county court records, Lafayette has been charged with aggravated domestic violence with three different women as well as possession of drugs, including methamphetamine. Under Illinois law, Lafayette cannot legally possess a firearm.”
Jane Kim, the lead reporter on the story, said Lafayette’s Family is “remembering him as a compassionate person who treasured his loved ones above all else.”
The news package displayed a picture of Darion with angel wings, reportedly given to WCIA by the family:
WCIA did include Officer Oberheim’s family in its coverage Friday evening. Oberheim leaves behind a wife and four daughters ranging from 13 to early 20s.
Amy Oberheim, Chris’s sister, told Breitbart News, “This is not fair to our family or to our hero Chris. This is terrible.”
Oberheim said she called WCIA to complain about the story, and “the lady blew me off, and I said, ‘(you) guys have disrespected our family and I want a call back from a director.’” According to Oberheim, WCIA director Richard Flesch called her back within an hour and apologized repeatedly before taking the story down.
Oberheim said the story, “made it out to seem (Lafayette) was an angel. He was by far from that.”
“That article was very disrespectful to our family,” she said. “We want to grieve in privacy.”
Kim has been silent publicly on the matter. According to a Facebook profile, she began her career at WCIA News in April this year.
WCIA also apologized on social media, saying, “Reporting stories of this nature are complicated and emotional for everyone involved—for the families and friends of the deceased and the wounded, and for the police department. An event like this has a direct impact on everyone in our community.”
Several local businesses removed advertising from WCIA. Some reallocated their funding to the Chris Oberheim Memorial GoFundMe:
This is not the first time Officer Chris Oberheim has been disrespected after his death. Last week, Illinois state Rep. Carol Ammons spoke about Lafayette and gun violence while introducing a moment of silence meant to honor the fallen officer on the floor of the Illinois House.
WCIA did not respond to a request for comment from Breitbart News before the publication of this article.