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Video Of Suicide In Bronx Housing Project Turns Up On Website

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Police said Wednesday they are investigating how a videotape capturing a suicide in a Bronx housing project ended up on a pornographic website.

The video shows 22-year-old Paris Lane of Manhattan shooting himself in the mouth. It was recorded on March 16 by a surveillance camera in the Morris Houses in the Bronx.

Police say Lane went there to visit his girlfriend and shot himself in the lobby.

Lane's family, who asked police for a copy of the tape but were turned down, later saw the shooting online. Now they want to know how the website's owners got the video.

“They couldn't believe it,” said Charles Robinson, the family’s attorney, “because they had requested to view this videotape of their relative's death, and they were refused access by the Police Department.”

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the release of the video. Police say the images came from a digital camera and could have been emailed.

The video has since been taken off the Internet, but many say the damage has been done.

“That was someone's death,” said Cinnamon Brown, whose sister Krystin spoke to Lane just before his suicide and also appears in the video. “He was going through pain and suffering, and they put it on the Internet like it was some kind of show. And my sister's 16 — she's only a minor.”

The Morris Houses are part of the city Housing Authority's VIPER program. The Police Department monitors surveillance cameras in participating developments 24 hours a day in an effort to reduce crime.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is calling on the NYPD to better supervise who has access to the video.

“What happened here demonstrates the dangers and limitations of video surveillance,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Like all technology, video technology is a double-edged sword. It can help us and it can also destroy our rights.”

Residents of the Morris Houses acknowledge that the cameras are used primarily to protect their safety. In this case, the cameras helped police quickly confirm the cause of death.

“If the cameras weren’t here,” said Brown, “my sister could've been accused of killing this guy, or nobody would've really known if it was self-inflicted. So I think it is good, but not to be used to be exploited on the Internet.”

But others question whether the potential for abuse is worth it.

“It's supposed to be for secuity's sake,” said another resident, “but I would say that if it's going be to be aired on the Internet like that, I guess they might as well take it off.”
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