Community rallies against release of slain officer’s body-cam footage; dozens expected to attend tomorrow’s ruling

It isn’t clear what type of response WBTV’s Nick Ochsner thought he’d get from the community when he petitioned for the release of Mooresville K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon’s body-cam footage from the night he was shot and killed.

But from the looks of it, the TV news reporter is staying very busy responding to public criticism … and shifting his story.

Dozens of concerned citizens are expected at Iredell County Hall of Justice tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., when a judge should decide which parts – if any – of Officer Sheldon’s body-cam footage to release to Ochsner and WBTV, the only television news station to formally request the footage to date.

The Fraternal Order of Police is fighting the release. So is the Town of Mooresville, which hired the law firm Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog of Charlotte to represent the police department. Assistant Town Attorney Sharon Crawford said the town, through its legal team, will “vigorously oppose the release of any videos related to this tragic event.

“As a town, and certainly on behalf of the police department, we owe it to Officer Sheldon, his family, his fiancee, his friends, and the law enforcement community to do all that we can to try and prevent the hurt and pain that would be caused by releasing any videos related to this tragedy,” Crawford said. 

While the community has rallied together against the release of the body-cam footage – even circulating online a petition that topped 18,000 signatures as of 4:15 p.m. today – WBTV’s Ochsner has been defending his request on social media … and at the same time rewriting history a bit on it.

When Ochsner first responded to Scoop questions about his petition – before most people were even aware of the filing – he confidently stated: “As a journalist, it’s my job to ask questions and seek answers, even when they might be tough.”

Facing immediate backlash on social media once the story broke, Ochsner journaled in a “Reporter’s Notebook” a more elaborate, far more personal reason for filing the petition: his dad, a Green Beret, was killed in a roadside bomb in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Ochsner said after that, his instinct as a reporter became to “dig for more information; to help explain to other people what happened, why it happened and how—or if—it could have been avoided.

“What better way to show the bravery and sacrifice of our law enforcement officers than show the moments before Ofc. Sheldon was killed and the response from his fellow officers, who quickly responded to render aid and search for a gunman on the loose. There is no better way to show the public what law enforcement officers face on a daily basis than by showing them the selfless service from this tense and tragic moment.”

I sympathize with Ochsner’s tragic loss of his father. However, I disagree with his stance on this particular situation. And after the feedback I’ve received from the public and police, it’s clear to me that there are far better ways to show the bravery of officers than to share a video of one being gunned down on the side of the road by a madman who later cowardly took his own life.

In the same article in which Ochsner defended his request, he then appears to contradict himself: “At no point has it been my intention to get or publish the actual video of Ofc. Sheldon being shot and dying.”

Wait. What?

Three days after Officer Sheldon was shot and killed in a traffic stop, WBTV’s Nick Ochsner filed a petition in Iredell County Superior Court, requesting the release of Sheldon’s body-cam footage and videos from other officers who may have been on the scene at the time or later responded.

Ochsner would also have us believe that “there isn’t a lot of room on the form to get into details but it’s clear you have to be broad in your request for video.”

This is what Ochsner provided as his reasons to request the body-cam footage. Plenty of room left for details or to be more specific …

Ochsner said he wants Sheldon’s body-cam footage to determine what happened leading up to the shooting. But he didn’t specify – in all the space remaining on the form he submitted – that he consents for the video to be terminated prior to the footage showing the fatal shots to Officer Sheldon. In fact, he doubled-down, asking for body-cam footage from responding officers who weren’t even on the scene when the shooting occurred.

So what, exactly, does Ochsner want to see and potentially release to the public? 

To clear up this double-speak, we look no further than to a recent Twitter response to David Coble, a former Mooresville commissioner. Read the last sentence of his tweet carefully:

“We would ask that the judge not release the part of the video past Ofc. Sheldon being shot.” 

“The part past” Officer Sheldon being shot means the shooting would be at the end of the video Ochsner now says he wants. 

Therefore, Ochsner wants to see Officer Sheldon being murdered. 

In the article I wrote earlier this week, I said maybe – getting into my journalist’s mind – I could understand a reporter requesting footage that leads up to the shots being fired … but stops short of the actual moment when a beloved officer and person was taken from this world in such a brutal, heartless way. 

That’s clearly not what Ochsner is after. 

Maybe there’s something therapeutic to him about getting all the details and talking all this out, as he wrote in his Reporter’s Notebook. 

But not all of us want to hear what you have to say about this, Nick. 

My dad didn’t die a national hero like yours (and I endlessly thank your father, and your family, for his service and sacrifice), but my dad did die tragically, on the side of the road, in a trucking accident. Same as your dad: 13 years ago.

Your news station, WBTV, repeatedly aired video footage of my dad’s work truck, with his blood and half his brain smeared and dripping down the driver’s side window and door. 

I can, thus, fully understand how your father’s death – and how you grieved it – played a significant role in making you the reporter you are today. My dad’s death – and how the television news reported it – played a critical role in making me into the reporter I am today, too. 

I’ll just leave it at that. 


4 thoughts on “Community rallies against release of slain officer’s body-cam footage; dozens expected to attend tomorrow’s ruling

  1. Girl! This is an awesome article. Thank you for answering the questions that I have been asking and wondering about. He is a jerk to say the least. I do send my condolences to him but there is right and wrong journalism. And this one is just wrong. I do send my condolences to you also! I know that there is free journalism, but have a heart. This is just cold hearted as a person not just a journalist.

  2. Great follow-up with clear evidence you have done your homework to justify your questioning of the dubious “Reporter’s Notebook” I saw that Nick Ochsner posted last week. When I saw what he wrote about his father, things made more sense to me as to WHY he requested the footage, yet I believe that is even LESS reason to release it to him and to WBTV.

    Oftentimes, the way in which those we love die – and the ways we psychologically process especially those tragic deaths – can cause us to seek careers that allow or even encourage us to delve into an underworld where we ultimately seek answers to something that will never make sense. Knowing every detail of how other heroes like Officer Sheldon die never brings back your own. And the collateral damage to those who loved the “other heroes” the most when someone like Ochsner goes on a “fact-finding mission” negates any compassion karma he might have collected along the way. This is a situation where, as my dad always said, “this is on a ‘need to know’ basis, and you just don’t need to know”. Those who need to know the details, do, and Ochsner is not one of those who is a part of that group. Unless he presents compelling evidence to the contrary tomorrow, I hope the Judge prohibits the video’s release to the news organization.

  3. I’m sorry about his father’s death! Truly I am. But Officer Sheldon death is totally different! Why can’t this man understand that! This Officer was gunned down ,yes we may not ever know why but what good is it going to be to His family,his fiance his fellow Officers and us as a Community that loved him and highly respected him to see this tragedy unfold again! This is nothing but for you to gain a father in your cap and up your ratings! Please drop this ,let all of his loved ones try to gain something positive instead of all the negativity you’re putting on our Police department and his precious family and is as a Community! Be a man and go to the courthouse and drop your petition to realise this body cam footage! WBTV will never be watched by me again for even allowing you to do such a thing! Somebody’s got to be the hero here! So it might as well be the Community and Law enforcement officers the City Hall all of us that find this totally sick!

  4. These are the words of wisdom, my friend.
    Our community has been through enough over the last two weeks. Sheldon died a hero in the eyes of most. His family, fiancée, K9 Partner, Ramon and retired K9 Partner, Loki, friends, local officers and officers who paid their respects from around our country, are attempting to put this tragedy into prospective and try and heal our hearts. How can we expect our officers and those who were closely involved and community, continue to be able to move forward, when there are those who feel that it is necessary to set all of us backwards. Our community has come together through this most difficult and tragic event, it is quite obvious what happened to K9 Officer Sheldon, no questions have been unanswered.
    I respect the right to keep the dignity of the last moments of a man who served our community, with the same integrity, respect, honor and dignity of how he served our community.
    I suggest you, sir, drive in your own lane to avoid attention, attitude and a potential backlash from those who care. You, could have avoided the fallout, if you only had respect for others, than feeling you deserve respect. 🖤💙🐾

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About Author

Hi! I’m Jaime

I was a newspaper reporter in Mooresville, NC for a decade and covered local government issues from 2003 to 2006.


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