Tour of San Bernardino shooters' home raises legal, ethical questions

It's one of the strangest tours you'll see as the media was allowed inside the San Bernardino shooting suspects' apartment. FOX 10's Jessica Flores reports.

- In a bizarre scene Friday morning, cable and livestream viewers were able to watch as reporters picked over the San Bernardino shooters' home. The couple lived in Redlands, not far from the shooting scene -- in an apartment police were apparently done with.

The couple's apartment was opened by the landlord for anyone to see, including the media. Laid out before everyone were FBI receipts for evidence taken from the home, a messy, but fully stocked kitchen, the couple's bathroom, a Macy's credit card and even their baby's crib and rocker.

"We executed a search warrant for that apartment and last night we turned that over back to the residents once the residents have the apartment and we are not in it anymore we don't control it," explained David Bowdish, Assistant Director of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

Even a neighbor and her dog were seen walking through the apartment.

And that strange video is leading to some very serious and ethical questions.

I've been to hundreds of crime scenes and I've never seen anything like what we saw on live TV Friday. Not only reporters walking through the home, but neighbors and others curious to get a look. The legal expert I talked to calls it shocking.

A rare glimpse into the San Bernardino killers' lives -- their kitchen, bathroom, baby crib -- all seemingly normal, but the public tour inside the home -- highly unusual.

"My first thought was are you kidding me? Who on Earth allowed them to do that? The shooting just happened and it's very unusual that any civilian was allowed on the scene or in the scene," said legal analyst Monica Lindstrom.

Lindstrom says the public touching and moving things inside the home could compromise any future investigations and prosecutions.

"There could be more evidence at the scene that leads other third parties," she said.  "Has it gotten to the point that we want to know what they ate.. what they did.. that we are going to risk getting information that could save us down the road?"

The FBI released the scene to the landlord, who then opened the home to the public. Still, Lindstrom says some reporters may have crossed the line.

If you're giving legal advice to a journalist going into this home, what do you tell them?

Lindstrom replied, "I would tell them don't touch anything. You can take pictures. I wouldn't touch anything. I wouldn't move anything and I would be very careful where you stepped."

Lindstrom says though the landlord owns the apartment, the items inside belong to the suspected shooters' family, which did not give permission for anybody to go through those personal belongings.

 


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