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Dayna Kempson Schacht Video: Illegal?

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on October 20, 2010 10:17 AM

23 year-old Dayna Kempson Schacht died last July when she lost control of her SUV and hit a row of trees lining a Griffin, Georgia highway. Dayna, a mother of two, was said to have died on impact. Undoubtly dealing with the tragedy for the rest of the their lives, Dayna's parents are now reliving their daughter's death with a video captured at the scene of the accident -- and they are not happy about it.

CBS News reports that a cell phone video taken by a responding firefighter captured Dayna body and crash scene. The video began circulating throughout the local fire station and then went viral. CBS News quotes Kempson's father, Jeff: "It was bad enough that we lost our daughter. And now we have to deal with something like this, it's just beyond words."

The thirty second video clip included a description of the scene and running commentary between two firefighters. The parents believe that the video shows a lack of concern for the urgency of their daughter's death, and have filed a complaint against the Spalding County Fire Department. But does the Dayna Schacht video break any laws? Does is this possibly fall under some form of cyberbulling laws? Privacy laws? Defamation laws? Laws about respecting a corpse?

Posting the video, although inappropriate and insensitive to the victim and her family, may not be illegal. To begin, the firefighter made a personal recording on his cell phone and did not "publish it" in the traditional sense. There also does not seem to be any evidence of an intention to distribute the video image based on an attempt to cause emotional damage to the parents. The Kempson family argues that any type of response agent should not have the distraction of a personal cell phone with them. Like many of the cyberbulling and sexting cases that are emerging, the Dayna Kempson Schacht video is another example of the difficulty of categorizing laws to emerging and unique uses of technology. Police are currently investigating the complaint.

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