Sherman Lea, Jr.: Not Bryce Williams

Sherman Lea, Jr., Friend Of Alison Parker, Mistaken For Shooter Bryce Williams: Media Racism At Work?

Sherman Lea, Jr. found himself the victim of one of the more horrifying and despicable acts of media racism Wednesday morning when news broke that his friend Alison Parker was allegedly gunned down by former WDBJ reporter Bryce Williams on a live video feed along with her colleague, Adam Ward.

Some media outlets, in an attempt to blitz the story onto social media and search engines as quickly as possible, mistakenly identified Lea (the man pictured at center in the image above) as Vester Lee Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams, the shooting suspect).

Lea was forced to hit Twitter amid his grief to clear up the fact that he is not Flanagan. In fact, the only thing the two men seem to share in common is that they are African-American.

Sherman Lea, Jr., is in reality a self-ascribed restaurant aficionado, educator, entrepreneur, and speaker.

Lea, Parker, and boyfriend Chris Hurst took the photo at the top of this article together and tweeted it out on April 26 through Parker’s account, shown here.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop sites like The Hollywood Gossip, as well as Steve Ayers, from identifying Lea as Williams.

Thankfully, some people close to the situation have since corrected THG, which has managed to correct the original attribution and remove the photo.

That said, there is still a lot of misinformation out there, and even though Flanagan is no longer a threat, Lea will have to deal with the backlash from this for some time to come.

This, unfortunately, isn’t the first time the lightspeed ways of new media have incorrectly identified someone as a suspect. In October 2014, the New York Post was forced to settle a lawsuit that came up after it misidentified two men as the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

Media Matters notes that the mistake originally occurred in the Post’s April 18, 2013, cover to the print edition, adding that “Neither side would disclose terms of the settlement.”

In the case of the Alison Parker and Adam Ward shootings, do you think the media outlets that misreported the suspect’s identity should be held financially liable?

Does Sherman Lea, Jr. have a case worthy of financial damages? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via Alison Parker Twitter, linked above]

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