Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Man dead, media silent

On Saturday, March 27, a man named Clyde Ratcliff was allegedly speed and not long after was pursued by Springfield police.  Mr. Ratcliff lost control of his car and it crashed into a fence.  Police broke a car window and pulled Mr. Ratcliff from the car.  Everything that happened after that is in dispute.  The outcome, however, is not: Mr. Ratcliffe is dead.

Many questions will be raised in the weeks to come, and whether they will be answered to the community's satisfaction, I don't know, but right now I just have one question:  where the hell was the media?  Four days passed and the Springfield Republican and our three television stations, WWLP 22, CBS 3 and ABC 40 were silent.

Now, there is no doubt that Mr. Ratcliff's death after an encounter with the Springfield police would be of immediate and great interest to the residents of Springfield.   Since November numerous accusations of police brutality that have rolled through this city starting with the beating of Melvin Jones III by Springfield police which was recorded on a cellphone.  Much has happened since then, including the firing of two police officers just yesterday.  Masslive.

But the media was silent for four days, until today, when member of the African-American Clergy Alliance and family members of Clyde Ratcliff paid an unannounced visit to Mayor Domenic Sarno.  . Someone told me that the night Mr. Ratcliff died, Channel 40 did a preview of upcoming news and said something about a man chased by police who had crashed his car-- but that no news story ever followed.  I didn't see that for myself and if anyone knows of any media coverage of Mr. Ratcliff's death that took place before today, I'd like to know.  I do know for sure that the Republican wrote nothing, and before this evening, found nothing on the local stations..

Now, just how does something like that happen?

It could be incompetence, but how does incompetence happen to affect one newspaper and three TV stations at the same time?

How does the media get this kind of news?  Obviously police scanners play a role.  What other ways is information communicated?  Did all these methods break down at the same time?

Or was the media asked to sit on this story for a while?


Mike Dobbs said...

This what I received on Wednesday:

On Saturday March 27th 2010 at 8:50 P.M. Sgt. Richard Labelle of the uniformed Division was working and patrolling "High Crime Areas" in Springfield. The Sergeant was in the area of Hancock Street when he observed a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville pulled over to the curb. The vehicle was occupied by CLYDE RATCLIFF age 48 of Johnson Street in Springfield. Mr. Ratcliff was talking with a lone woman standing on the curb. Sgt. Labelle attempted to pull the car over after running the plates and Mr. Ratcliff took off at a high rate of speed. The vehicle attempted to elude the officer at a very high rate of speed driving through a serpentine course of the streets and disregarding all traffic signs and signals. The Officer stopped pursuing the vehicle because of the dangerous way Mr. Ratcliff was driving. The description of the Motor Vehicle was given out over the air to the other officers working in the city to be "on the lookout". Sgt. Labelle then drove to Johnson Street, the address where the plate came back to from the RMV.
Two other officers spotted the car Mr. Ratcliff was driving in the Forest Park section of the city. They attempted to pull the vehicle over near Alderman and Dickinson Street. The Pontiac then attempted to elude the police by turning onto Grenada Terrace on the wrong side of the terrace and drove at a high rate of speed. The Pontiac then crashed as Mr. Ratcliff turned into the front lawn at 92 Grenada Terrace. The car struck a three foot cinder block wall causing heavy front end damage. The force of the accident caused both airbags to deploy. The officers on scene extricated Mr. Ratcliff from the car through the drivers side window. (The car doors were not working because of the crash. Mr. Ratcliff was placed into custody and brought to the nearby police car.
The officers called for an ambulance to check out Mr. Ratcliff because of the impact of the accident. Mr. Ratcliff spoke with the officers and the arriving E.M.T's. He complained of shortness of breath and told the EMT's that he had a heart condition and was taking heart medication. The EMT's decided to bring him to the Baystate ER. He walked to the stretcher from the police car, still talking to the EMT's . On the way to the hospital
Mr. Ratcliff the patient stopped breathing. CPR was performed and Mr. Ratcliff died at the Baystate ER.
Deputy Chief John Barbieri ( who was working the weekend) was at the scene of the accident. A thorough investigation was done of the accident and of the attempted arrest of Ratcliff. Reports were taken from the four EMT's at the scene along with all the officers who pursued the car.
The District Attorneys Office has been notified and were called that night. The D.A. has all the reports. The Medical Examiner performed an autopsy today and the results are not yet available.
Mr. Clyde Ratcliff has a history with the Springfield Police Department. Out of respect to the family I am not sending out any pictures of the deceased.
Commissioner William Fitchet expressed condolences to the family of
Mr. Ratcliff during their time of mourning.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Thanks you all for your comments and VERY important information regarding the unfortunate passing of Bro. Clyde Radcliff. I am a family member who lives out of state and the info I received has censored, to say the least. I truly appreciate your sharing of what info has been made available. W/ hopes that more info will shed more light on this tragic situation...........
And, YES!!!!!!....Where was the media on this passing of a citizen???..........

Cousin TLM