Nashville TV station airs video of cinema shooter’s body

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A screen capture of a news broadcast by WMSV-TV on August 5, 2015. (Photo: Supplied)

A screen capture of a news broadcast by WSMV-TV on August 5, 2015. (Photo: Supplied)

A Nashville television station drew heat from its viewers and online streamers after it aired helicopter footage showing the deceased body of a man connected to an attack at a suburban movie theater on Wednesday.

NBC affiliate WSMV (Channel 4) was one of several stations to carry live coverage of the attack at the Carmike Cinemas movie theater in Antioch, a town within the Nashville metropolitan area. Police fatally shot 29-year-old Vincente Montano after he attacked theater patrons with pepper spray and a hatchet.

During its coverage of the attack, WSMV aired helicopter footage shot at low altitude that, among other things, contained a scene in which Montano’s deceased body could be seen strewn on the pavement outside the rear of the theater.

The tape was first shown around 2:30 p.m. local time. During the first run, a news anchor pointed out the body of the man. The footage ran three more times in a one-hour period — twice during a press conference in which police confirmed the body was that of the suspected attacker — before editors at WSMV blurred out the body for subsequent airings.

It was not clear why the footage, which caused a stir on social media, was shown four times before the deceased body was edited out, although a news anchor said WSMV first aired the footage unedited because the station did not have time to thoroughly review it before it was broadcast.

Michelle Palmer, the station’s assistant news director, did not return a request for comment.

Will Wiquist, a spokesperson with the Federal Communications Commission, told The Desk by e-mail on Wednesday that it would review any viewer complaints submitted to the agency about WSMV’s broadcast. Wiquist declined to say whether the agency could foresee any enforcement action against the station, but a fine or other disciplinary measure seems unlikely since the FCC does not regulate violent content broadcast on television.