Hate mail poured into Douglas County Dist. Atty. Charles Branson's mailbox Friday after Lawrence resident Dale Vestal released a video showing his son getting beaten by another boy at a basketball game.
The writers demand prosecution. And most of them don't ask nicely.
The only problem: From Lawrence, Branson can't do much. The video of the brutal fight was shot in Newton, some 150 miles away.
"It just didn't happen here," Branson said.
The mail - most of it electronic - began flowing in after 24-hour news network CNN posted the video of the beating on its Web site, Branson said. The tagline on the bottom of the video read "Lawrence, Kansas," leading concerned viewers from all over the country to send Branson messages demanding he file charges.
Any e-mail sent to the DA's Web site goes straight to him, Branson said, so the barrage of profanity-strewn messages popped up first thing Saturday morning on Branson's BlackBerry.
"They're less than cordial," Branson said of the mail.
The video was shot during a Mid America Youth Basketball tournament in March and has garnered national attention from news networks.
The video shows Vestal's son, Coulter, being thrown to the ground by another boy, then being punched repeatedly while he lay motionless.
Joanne Lechleiter, an assignment editor for CNN, said that the video labeling the incident as happening in Lawrence was all a mix-up.
The video, sent by CNN's Kansas City affiliate, carried a Lawrence tag line because it included an interview with Vestal from Lawrence.
Vestal originally released the video in an attempt to get law enforcement in Newton to file charges against his son's unidentified attacker.
Lechleiter said the hate mail sent to Branson was entirely unintended.
"The dad was in Lawrence," she said. "That's why the locator said that."
When Lechleiter found out about the problem, she called Branson and explained what happened.
For now, the video will remain on the CNN site, and Branson said most of the people who felt compelled to write him likely already had done so.
Branson said he wanted people to understand he couldn't file charges even if he wanted to. He responded to all of the e-mails, but that might be as much as he is willing to do, he said.
When asked whether he would forward the e-mails to Harvey County Dist. Atty. David Yoder, who would handle any prosecution in the case, he said, "Some, I don't think they are very forwardable."
Yoder said Friday that his office had received the police reports on the case and had them reviewed for possible prosecution.