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Fox45 interviews wanted fugitive, fails to notify police

Saturday - 4/14/2012, 12:49pm  ET

Heather Brady, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - By interviewing a wanted fugitive in the St. Patrick's Day beating of a Baltimore tourist, Baltimore's Fox affiliate station lost a program that partnered them with city police.

Fox45 interviewed Aaron Parsons Friday night about the beating of a tourist on St. Patrick's Day in the city.

But Parsons, who was wanted by police for the role they say he played in the crime, hadn't turned himself in yet. The TV station didn't contact police to let them know they had Parsons in their studios, police said.

In a press conference Friday, Baltimore city police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives contacted the news station after learning that Parsons was there giving an interview. Fox45 indicated that Parsons told them he'd turn himself in after the interview.

"Fox45 is, ironically, the partner for the Baltimore police department for Fugitive Files, a program where we feature wanted information of suspects, hoping to get information to police," Guglielmi said. "I'm going to be honest. That was very frustrating for us."

Parsons turned himself in at 7:30 p.m. Friday night, after police contacted his lawyer.

Guglielmi said the city of Baltimore was outraged about the video, which is why police were so frustrated that Fox45 didn't contact them about Parsons' interview.

"We will be discontinuing our relationship with that news outlet to provide Fugitive Files," he said. "Instead, we will provide information to the public directly through social media and through every other news outlet about everybody that's wanted in Baltimore."

A Fox45 spokesman says the station's role in the arrest has been "misrepresented."

"Parsons enlisted the aid of an attorney, who told us he had been in contact with the State's Attorney's office to coordinate Parsons' surrender," Fox 34 News Director Mike Tomko tells WTOP. "We were told Parsons would turn himself in after making a statement, and we had no reason to believe otherwise. In fact, Parsons and his attorney Warren Brown, did meet with officers later that evening."

"We assume Parsons wanted to speak to us because we were the first media outlet to air the story and the organization that brought the crime to the police department's attention," he says. "After numerous inquiries and stories, the police opened their investigation into the matter."

Tomko says it would be "a shame" for the police department to end their Fugitive Files programming with the station, and hopes for reconciliation in the future.

"We believe the Fugitive Files and Wheel of Justice segments help police do their jobs more effectively and they are important in building a relationship between the public and officers," he says. "We understand that this case has become emotional for several people, but I'm hopeful that when things cool down, we can sit down with police leadership and renew our commitment to helping Baltimore Police keep the city safe."

Fox45 ran the interview with Aaron Parsons and his attorney Friday night as part of their "Fox45 News at Ten" and "Late Edition at 11" broadcasts.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)