The Q13 scandal keeps growing!

The freelance photographer, Jud Morris, at the center of the Q13 police video cover-up fiasco is now accused of stealing a couple of cameras from the station – the same station that fired him for selling his video to KIRO after Q13 allegedly sat on it for fear of ruining its cozy relationship with the Seattle Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that necessarily comes along with its operation of the Most Wanted franchise. Most Wanted

SPD is letting Pierce County carry its water to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Please. There is nothing law enforcement loves more than to put a media person, or a quasi-media person like Morris who gets “out of line” on the hot seat – no matter what the jurisdiction. And oh, Morris has had some run ins with south Sound cops too, so unless the FBI is being called in, everybody has a dog in this fight no matter what agency is doing the strong-arm work.

What a mess this thing has turned out to be.

Back in the 80s and 90s – a lot of “stolen” Betacams had a way of turning up in the hands of moonlighting and freelancing videographers. Kick out a window on a station vehicle, file a police report and you’ve got what used to be a $100,000 worth of gear sitting in your basement. Cameras had to be traded or serial number swapped out-of-market, but there was a small industry created by stealing broadcast quality gear from a freelancer’s or staffer’s employer and letting the company’s insurance pay for it. Dirty yes. Uncommon? Not so much.

Did that happen here? Without our suspect having reported a stolen camera or filing a police report, it makes you wonder if the cameras allegedly in Morris’ possession were authorized or not. I mean he can’t be stupid enough to steal a camera or two, and then turn around and shoot the thing in the same market can he? That just doesn’t add up. Did Morris file a suspicious theft report?

I also want to know who is lying when it comes to the question about whose camera he was shooting on the night of the Seattle PD incident. Either Q13 is lying, and Morris
was well within his rights to peddle his footage to anybody, or Morris is lying and was using the gear of, and on the clock for, Q13 – in which case selling it to KIRO was wrong. Criminal? I doubt it. But certainly wrong.

Now, if it was Q13s gear as they allege, having that gear in his possession – even on a take home basis – isn’t out of the ordinary. Q13 would have reported the gear stolen had the company had a genuine concern about the gear’s whereabouts. OR, Morris would have reported it stolen if he was attempting to run the old game. If no theft reports were filed, Q13 never viewed the gear as “stolen” and Morris probably wasn’t attempting to steal it.

You should also know that if Q13 allowed Morris to take home gear or check it out for a “shift”, then the guy really isn’t a freelancer – he’s a Tribune employee getting screwed out of benefits. So if Morris is little more than a Q13 shadow-employee then again, having the cameras in his possession may not be a legal issue but rather a procedural one. If Q13 let Morris use their gear AND owned the video AND made an “editorial decision” not to air it, why were two staffers fired over the incident since Morris would have clearly been the guilty party having stolen the video and sold it to KIRO?

If however he’s not supposed to have Q13 gear and shot on his own gear, then again, the station’s claim that he somehow “stole” the video he shot is bogus as is would be the fact that Q13 never filed a stolen property report.

That’s the problem with lies, half-truths and mixed motives – the case keeps growing, and getting more serious. Morris has had what reputation he had absolutely trashed by this news – will somebody be held to account for that if this goes in his favor?

Luckily, search warrants are a wonderful thing – because it turns out Morris is allegedly a closet dope smoker – so they at least have him on something. Why would that have been within the scope of the warrant? Why would a judge have signed off on searching the house for dope if the issue was stolen property? Isn’t a theft report necessary for a stolen property search warrant? If not, why not? If so, who filed it?

Folks, the marijuana is a red herring – and both dope and herring are still stinking up the joints at Q13, SPD and PCSO.