Columbia, SC (WLTX)- The family of a man whose lifeless body was broadcast live on the national television show "Live PD" wants the Richland County Sheriff's Department to change their policies with the filming company.
Following Sheriff Leon Lott's announcement of the three arrests in the case, Benjamin Johnson's family said the department has failed to show empathy for the situation this has put them in.
"A&E is benefiting from it, the sheriff's department is benefiting from it, and their benefit is coming at the cost of the people that the sheriff's department is sworn to protect and serve," Family Attorney Dan Luginbill said. "They have no say so in it and the sheriff reiterated today that he doesn't think they have a say so in it."
Johnson's mother said when she arrived at her house, the scene of the crime,. she wasn't allowed to go where the show's cameras were.
"How could they let the cameras get up to see him, but they can't let me get up to the scene," she said.
Lott said this resulted from a drug deal gone wrong and said the criticism of the show's choice to air the dead body has clouded their purpose of participating to begin with.
"We don't believe [the show] is problematic in any way at all, except for the fact that it's taken the focus off of what we should really be focusing on right here," Lott said. "That's what the fact that drugs and violence are killing people."
The Johnson family is not asking Lott to quit the show, instead they are asking for an apology from the department and a change in their policies with the show so other families do not go through the same thing.
"To see his lack of compassion and his nonchalant demeanor about our feelings about this, it was unnerving," Johnson's sister Kissy Johnson said. "I just don't want no one else to have to go through that, that is a scary moment, to watch that on T.V."
Lott put the responsibility of what they may end up seeing on the viewers themselves.
"This is real life and they may see something or somebody that they know," he said. "That's the choice that they make."
When asked if there will be any procedural changes following this incident, Lott said, "We have things in place to make sure they're done properly."
The Johnson family said they are grateful deputies were able to make the arrests. However, if they don't receive and apology and a voluntary change in policy at the department, they will pursue legal options.
When asked if the department profits from the show, Lott denied receiving any compensation.