First responders concerned about people filming emergency situations before calling 911

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The family of Brian Harris gathered where he died Saturday afternoon to draw attention to his hit-and-run death, but in addition to that publicity, they learned new details about his final minutes.

“We feel like instead of people recording them, they could have called 911. We don’t know how long he was laying there before my sister got to him, but she tried her best and he did tell her thank you," Nicole Murrell said.

Murrell explained her sister and niece arrived at the scene just north of 38th Street and Arlington Avenue Friday night to find Harris on the ground after he was hit by a gold or tan Nissan Sentra from 2007 to 2012. Police are still looking for that vehicle.

Murrell said her sister started CPR while her niece called 911 and several other bystanders just stood by and videotaped the incident.

“If we just have a heart instead of recording everything, there could have been another life saved," Murrell said.

First responders say this not an isolated incident and people turning to the camera on their phone first instead of the dial pad is becoming more and more common.

“We’ve encountered that a lot," IFD Spokeswoman Rita Reith said. "Bystanders at a scene will be more interested in filming what they are looking at than actually taking action to either activate the 911 system or offer assistance to whomever may be injured at the time.”

In January, dozens of people recorded a fight outside the Bu Da Lounge for more than two minutes before gun shots rang through downtown. Several 911 calls were made after the gun shots. 31-year-old Wilbur Morton died during the incident.

“It seems to be that everybody wants to be first with whatever is going on so they are trying to video tape it and throw it out there on their social media channels without even stopping to think what they are actually witnessing," Reith said.

Last fall, more than 200 people were at The Pub downtown on Georgia Street when a fire started in a grate underneath the bar. No citizen called 911 to report the blaze.

“Don’t assume somebody else is going to do that for you. Make sure that you pick up the phone. We would much rather be inundated with lots of 911 calls about a particular incident, because that is how we get a lot of our preliminary information as we are in route to the scene," Reith said.

IMPD officers said if you do know help is on the way, it is not bad to start recording an incident. They do ask if you do witness and record a crime to offer that video to investigators first before putting it online for the world to see.

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