Police ask residents not to post pictures, video during stand-of - KMOV.com

Police ask residents not to post pictures, video during stand-off

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A SWAT team takes a suspect into custody on May 31. A SWAT team takes a suspect into custody on May 31.
O'FALLON, Mo. (KMOV.com) - During Sunday's SWAT team stand-off in O'Fallon, Missouri, police asked residents not to post any pictures or video of officers in the area for their safety. The request led some citizens to ask if it was social media censorship.

William Pennington, of Elsberry, Mo., was barricaded in his home after what began as a domestic disturbance on Sunday afternoon and ended in his surrender almost nine hours later.

The O'Fallon Police Department posted a message to their Facebook page, which said, "If you live in the area please stay in your homes and refrain from posting any pictures of our personnel or video for the time being for their safety."

Cordes Street was shut down for several hours with officers and a SWAT team in the neighborhood with their guns drawn.

"I had mentioned something to the police officer, about 'what's going on?' and he didn't really want to talk about it and I understand they can't give out too much information," said Cynthia Jackson, who lives near the scene of the stand-off.

The department was concerned with too much information being released, especially with a barricaded subject.

News 4 had crews on the ground and in the air at the scene, but abided by the department's request not to show any live pictures of SWAT members in case the suspect in the stand-off turned on the news or monitored social media.

Online, the discussion on whether or not the public had the right to post pictures and video turned into a debate over First Amendment rights and censorship.

The O'Fallon Police Department updated their original request a couple of hours later, saying, "At no time did we suggest you not take pictures or post them. Our request, and that was all it was, was to try and protect officers and residents who had not been evacuated from a dangerous scene."

"I think the public has the right to know, but maybe not while it's going on," said Jackson. "Let people know later what's going on, because the person inside the house could be watching... the person in the house doesn't need any tips on what's happening."

Pennington was apprehended hours after the stand-off began. He is also wanted in Johnson County, Mo. on sexual assault sodomy charges.

The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office charged 45-year-old Pennington, with assault, resisting felony arrest and assault on a police animal.

Pennington's cash-only bond was set at $50,000.

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