Monday, August 17, 2009

The art of the "perp walk"

Viola Lorenzo kicks at reporters after her arrest in drug sweep in New York City, Aug., 1988. NY Daily News photo by David Handschuh

Last week, the manager of a Broward County Taco Bell restaurant was the victim of a particularly vile and disgusting crime; one that managed to shock the sensibilities of even the most cynical South Floridian.

Police say that two brothers robbed and stabbed to death 39-year-old Tikkitress Johnson. All this after she gave them soft drinks before the restaurant had opened.

Police quickly arrested the brothers.

One of them - Tesfaye Ritchie - was paraded for news cameras at BSO headquarters Friday.

As "perp walks" go, it was pretty uneventful. Ritchie was walked in handcuffs and shackles to a waiting police car as news cameramen filmed him.

Veteran newspaper photographer, Mike Stocker, of the Sun-Sentinel was there with both a video camera and digital 35mm camera.

Stocker tells Random Pixels that these days he finds himself shooting more video than still pictures at news events. This time would be no different.

Stocker had asked his assigment desk if they wanted video or stills and was told to shoot video for his paper's website and TV partner, WSFL.

So if this "perp walk" unfolded like the scores of other "walks" Stocker has covered; he'd have just one chance at getting Ritchie on tape. And probably no still pictures.

As Ritchie walked towards the police car, Stocker shot from the far side of the car - away from the other TV photographers - "for a different angle."

As cops were putting Ritchie in the car, Stocker ran to the other side to get more footage of him.

But before Ritchie got in the car, the cops removed his leg shackles.

And as an officer stood there with the empty shackles, Stocker saw that he had time to make a still picture also.

Raising his 35mm camera, Stocker fired the shutter and captured the image. Stocker told Random Pixels that he only had time to for a "couple of shots."

But in doing so, Stocker preserved a moment that might be one the more memorable "perp walk" images we've seen in a while. Including my own!

Sun-Sentinel photo by MIKE STOCKER

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