September 21, 2013

JOURNALISM: Rollie Chance, misidentified as Navy Yard shooter, demands media accountability.

Chance, 50, thought the call was a joke. He told the caller, “I guarantee you 100 percent Rollie Chance didn’t do it,” and hung up.

Moments later, FBI agents arrived at his home. Soon after, reporters began piling up at the curb. And on Twitter, reporters for both NBC and CBS named Chance as the now-deceased killer. CBS also identified Chance on national radio. ABC, which called Chance, did not report any connection.

The two network news outlets quickly retracted their tweets and CBS corrected its radio report. But Chance is wondering how he will ever erase the accusatory Internet trail that led to his door and is trying to work through days of anxiety for his family, including his 9-year-old daughter, whom he held out of school for a day.

“Verify before you vilify,” Chance implored in an interview Friday with his lawyer Mark Cummings. He joined a list of innocent people wrongly connected to high-profile crimes, to include the brother of the Newtown school shooter, two Boston men wrongly linked to the Boston Marathon bombings, and security guard Richard Jewell at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.

Enormous damages would ensure greater circumspection.

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