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Teamwork, enterprise deliver deep coverage on fatal police shooting of Chicago teen

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When Chicago police released the body camera video of an officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy in an alley, AP staffers in Chicago and across the AP sprang into action with aggressive reporting, sharp follow-ups and thoughtful standards discussions about how to responsibly portray the gruesome incident for photo and video clients.

The end result was three days of distinctive coverage on a story that resonated with audiences around the world, especially with renewed focus on police violence in the midst of the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

As soon as the video showing the death of Adam Toledo was released, Chicago-based reporters Don Babwin and Sara Burnett, working with colleagues across the Central Region, quickly analyzed the most important footage to report that the boy appeared to drop a handgun and begin raising his hands less than a second before an officer fired the fatal shot. This was a demanding task for staffers who had to maintain their journalistic focus despite the chilling footage of a boy being killed.

Meanwhile,U.S. video managers Vaughn Morrison, Alex Sanz and Tom Williams had a discussion with standards editor John Daniszewski and other senior leaders about how to present the key video elements to show what happened leading up to,and immediately following, the shooting. Teresa Crawford in Chicago edited Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plea for calm. Derek Karikari in New York edited the body camera footage, while producer Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles edited reaction from the Toledo family’s attorney. Photo managers convened discussions about what pictures to pull from the screen grab and do so in a responsible way.

That coverage was followed Friday with three strong enterprise elements:

— A story by Burnett and Michael Tarm examining the call for charges, with analysis from experts on the difficulty bringing them under the circumstances of this case. That story also included quotes and color gathered by video journalist Noreen Nasir who covered a protest that night in Chicago. Live video was streamed by New York-based video journalist Robert Bumsted.

— Babwin explained how police foot pursuits played a role and what efforts to change Chicago police policies would entail.

— David Bauder reported on how media handled the release of the graphic video.

Detroit-based race and ethnicity reporter Kat Stafford followed Saturday with a broader piece on the trauma being experienced by the Black community,including recent examples elsewhere, as well as this one involving a Latino boy. Chicago-based photo intern Shafkat Anowar provided compelling photos of protests and memorials throughout the weekend.

The story received strong play across formats,including many newspaper front pages in Illinois and the Chicago area.

For comprehensive all-formats coverage providing depth,detail and context amid a reckoning on police practices,the team of Tarm,Babwin,Burnett,Stafford,Bauder,Anowar, Bumsted and Karikari shares this week’s Best of the States award.

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