OUR VIEW: We erred with Tuesday's headline
We owe all of our readers an apology, but mostly Norman Pope and his wife, Judy. On the front page of Tuesday's edition, we published a story about a road-hunting incident in which a Minnesota hunter allegedly shot at a pheasant too close to an o...
We owe all of our readers an apology, but mostly Norman Pope and his wife, Judy.
On the front page of Tuesday's edition, we published a story about a road-hunting incident in which a Minnesota hunter allegedly shot at a pheasant too close to an occupied dwelling in Douglas County near Armour.
In the story, we explained that, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Pope and his wife were upset about the shots and stopped the hunters for their actions.
Norman Pope allegedly confronted the hunters with a gun and his wife took the hunters' keys.
No one was injured in the incident, and the hunters never felt threatened, officers told us.
Reporting the story wasn't where we erred, though. We utilized a law enforcement agency as a source and reported what the officers sorted out at the scene. That's typical.
We erred by our headline "Multiple people charged in road hunting case."
We also reported the following lines: "The Popes will be facing charges, once they are filed to the state's attorney's office today or Wednesday ... . Norman Pope will be charged with aggravated assault and his wife, Judy, 65, will be charged with false imprisonment for taking the hunters' keys ... ."
We sourced that information to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, but that doesn't mean it's correct or OK.
Where we erred was stating that the Popes will be charged with crimes.
The incident is unusual, clearly, and that's where discretion comes into play.
The Douglas County state's attorney will be making the determination based on his discretion as to whether the Popes will face charges. We called Craig Parkhurst, state's attorney, on Tuesday to discuss the situation with him. He said he will be making a decision by sometime today if the Popes should face charges.
Quite simply, we jumped the gun. A sheriff's office only recommends charges to the state's attorney in criminal cases. With our headline and our reporting, we never convicted the Popes. We stated they were charged, which was inaccurate.
Still, our headline was wrong and some of our reporting was inaccurate.
We want to assure our readers that we take very seriously crime and court stories. When someone is charged with a crime or is facing charges, their reputation is on the line.
That cannot be taken lightly.