Seattle Police suspend Twitch video gaming channel after discussion on deadly shooting
SEATTLE - The Seattle Police Department claims it was using a popular video gaming platform as a community outreach tool to talk about last weekend's deadly shooting of pregnant mother Charleena Lyles.
But according to the news site Geekwire, backlash has led SPD to suspend its use of the Twitch video game channel.
Since January, Seattle Police have discussed “events of the week” while playing a video game at the same time. The game called "Destiny" is a first- person shooter game.
Seattle Police said it uses 'Twitch', a video gaming platform, and other social media as a way to reach out and inform younger members of the community.
“They've talked about gun violence in the city homeless, possible federal crackdown on marijuana. so real topics of interest to Seattlelites,” said Kurt Schlosser, a reporter for Geekwire. “It’s a kind of a unique way to deliver police information.”
On Wednesday, police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb talked with video gamers about Sunday's fatal shooting of Lyles.
Police initially responded to a reported burglary at Lyle’s apartment and were given information about an increased risk to officers following a previous call. At some point, officers said Lyles turned on them and threatened them with knives. Both officers opened fire.
Wednesday's video gaming session drew a lot of angry comments on social media. Messages on Twitter called the move inappropriate and insensitive.
Schlosser talked to Sgt. Whitcomb about Wednesday's controversial session.
“He didn't play the game. He simply was in the game. Streaming and talking about the latest information from the department around the shooting of this mother of 4,” said Schlosser.
Geekwire said Whitcomb made the decision to suspend the department's use of the video channel on Friday.
“They thought they had lost their ability to convince people that this was a meaningful platform for them to be on,” said Schlosser. “He said it was never done maliciously or to cause any hurt. It was meant to answer questions and share information and be accountable.”
According to Geekwire, this is the third officer-involved shooting that Seattle Police Department has talked about on the video gaming channel.