The Definitive Definition of a Public
Person: Gertz v. Welch
One of the most sensitive of all law enforcement issues is dealing with what may appear to be misconduct by law enforcement officials. As we have seen in the case of George Rosenbloom, an officer can defame an innocent person without being held accountable for that action. In Spike Lee's controversial 1989 film Do the Right Thing, the denouement of the drama is the murder of the black character Radio Raheem by a white police officer. While those who were upset by this thought-provoking film criticized it for many reasons, few argued that the confrontation Lee presented was unrealistic. Anyone who reads a newspaper regularly can recall numerous stories of fatal confrontations between private citizens and the police of most big cities. Frequently the people involved are young and/or members of minority groups as in the Lee film.