On Sunday, a 74-year-old man in Cleveland, Ohio who had just left an Easter meal with his children was gunned down in broad daylight — and his death was allegedly broadcasted on Facebook. Robert Godwin was identified as the victim of what appears to be a random act of violence, and Cleveland police are still on the lookout for the alleged killer. While this case has gained nationwide attention and people are naturally curious about the case, we shouldn't be watching the video of Robert Godwin's murder.
The Cleveland Police are currently searching for the suspect and investigating his claims of committing multiple homicides around the city, and the video of Godwin's murder has since been removed from Facebook. Facebook has since issued a statement condemning the video, which it said was not broadcasted live. Instead, a spokesman claimed that it was recorded prior to being posted.
The suspect who committed the murder has been identified as a 37-year-old employee at a local children's mental health center. In a disturbing Facebook video posted around 2:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, the suspect can be seen driving around the streets of Cleveland, stating that he has "snapped." He claimed to have killed 13 victims that day, and that he was "working on 14."
At one point, the suspect stops the car and says "Found me somebody I'm going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude." He then exits the car, approaches Godwin, forces him to say a woman's name, and tells him "She's the reason this is about to happen to you." Although Godwin denies knowing anyone by that name, the suspect appears to shoot him at point-blank range.
Although the video has been removed from its original platform, parts of it have been rebroadcasted on various news outlets (although the murder itself has been blurred out), and the entire video can still be found through a perfunctory Google search. Although our curiosity may get the best of us, we shouldn't actively seek, or watch, the video of Godwin's murder.
Godwin was an innocent, elderly man who had just spent the holiday surrounded by family. His son described him as the kind of person "who would give you the shirt off his back." A moment later, his life was taken from him, and with it, his basic right to privacy and death with dignity.
Godwin, through no fault of his own, was unwittingly a pawn in what seems to be a man's efforts to exact revenge on an ex or current girlfriend. He has already lost his life. He doesn't deserve to be an object of banal entertainment to satisfy curiosity as well.
Watching the Facebook video of Godwin's death trivializes the tragic experience, turning him and his horrifying circumstances into nothing more than another viral trend.
It's natural to be interested in watching such a sensational video — despite how disturbing it may be. But if you're really interested in Godwin, focus on learning more about his life and the kind of man he was. Stay up-to-date about the Cleveland Police's efforts to capture his killer. But don't reduce Godwin, an innocent, 74-year-old man, to the latest viral sensation.