The original Metropolitan Police Department press release in the Seth Rich murder case contradicts early mainstream news reports on a key detail: how did police officers find out about the shooting?
In the press release, the Department said that officers “heard gunshots.” But the news reports, and the Department’s current version of the story, claim that officers were alerted to the gunshots by a digital surveillance system, and did not actually hear the gunshots themselves. This is especially important because there are no eyewitnesses in the case. Why did the Police Department change its story?
Did the officers actually hear the gunshots or not?
Slain 27-year old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich died from two gunshot wounds in the back on Sunday July 10, 2016, four days after Attorney General Loretta Lynch closed the Hillary Clinton email investigation and twelve days before WikiLeaks published internal DNC emails that damaged the Clinton campaign. WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange have always suggested that Rich was the source of the leaks, which Democratic lawmakers have been blaming on a supposed Russian hack. A private investigator employed by Rich’s family confirms the existence of evidence showing that Rich was in communication with WikiLeaks before he died.
There is a major discrepancy between the Metropolitan Police Department press release and the first wave of mainstream news articles about the case.
Police reported that they “heard gunshots” while patrolling the area. But the mainstream news claimed that police found out about the shooting from their ShotSpotter system, which tracks the sound of gunshots via hidden recording technology around the city then sends the location of the gunshots to police digitally.
Here’s the Metropolitian Police Department press release from Monday July 11 (emphasis added):
“Homicide: 2100 Block of Flagler Place, Northwest…Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred in the 2100 block of Flagler Place, Northwest on Sunday, July 10, 2016. At approximately 4:19 am, members of the Fifth District were patrolling the area when they heard gunshots. Upon arrival on the scene, members located an adult male victim conscious and breathing, and suffering from gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.
The decedent has been identified as 27-year-old Seth Conrad Rich, of Northwest, DC.
The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia….”
But here’s how the New York Daily News described it at 5:40 PM on Monday July 11:
“Joel Rich, the victim’s father, told the Washington Post that police suggested the attack may have resulted from a robbery gone awry. Although nothing was stolen from the victim, Rich believes his son engaged his assailants before he was killed. Police officers patrolling the area responded to the gun shots around 4:20 a.m. using the ShotSpotter system to find the location of the shooting. Rich was taken to a local hospital where he died a short time later.”
Now here’s the Washington Post’s July 11 report (emphasis added): “Early Sunday morning, the 27-year-old was shot to death in a crime that has shaken not only his family, colleagues and friends, but also many in his Bloomingdale neighborhood of Northwest. Police said they have no suspects, witnesses or motive, though they are looking at whether Rich could have been slain in an attempted robbery.
Rich was found shot several times, at least once in the back, about 4:20 a.m., after police were alerted by sensors that detect the sound of gunfire. ShotSpotter sensors drew officers to Flagler Place and W Street, a block from a townhouse Rich moved into two years ago with several roommates.”
This is a clear contradiction. The police said they “heard” the shots at 4:19. But the papers reported that they learned about the shooting from ShotSpotter alerts, which take 30 to 45 seconds to transmit, at 4:20.
Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman told Big League Politics that officers learned about the shooting “Through ShotSpotter technology,” pointing to a public incident report that lists “R-1 CIC ShotSpotter” as the reporting person at 4:20. Presented with the original Department press release, which said that officers “heard gunshots,” Bilal did not immediately have an explanation.
Here is how ShotSpotter works, according to a company video. The information that gets sent to police is presented, in this video, as visual information, not audio information.