MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Michigan State Police say unedited video an undercover detective posing as a hit man could put that officer's life in danger.
The video shows Julia Merfeld, 21, of Muskegon meeting twice with the undercover officer in April. Thinking he was a hit man, Merfeld offered to pay him $50,000 to kill her husband for his $400,000 life insurance.
Released Monday by the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office, the video has gone viral. Parts of it have been aired by national news outlets.
Tuesday, MSP said the unedited video could reveal the undercover officer's identity and put his life in jeopardy. The release put out by MSP said in part, "This would be a very unfortunate breach of trust which was requested by the Muskegon County Prosecutor when he released the unedited video, asking that the first 30 seconds not be used." When given the video, the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office told 24 Hour News 8 not to show the officer's face.
The beginning of the unedited video given to some media outlets includes identifying information about the officer. That footage did not air on 24 Hour News 8 and was not posted to woodtv.com. In a request to the news media, the MSP Sixth District Commander Inspector David Roesler asked that copies of the unedited video be destroyed.
Roesler also said revealing the officer's identity could compromise pending cases, forcing the officer to be reassigned.
He said he was not worried about edited versions of the video that have already aired. Despite that reassurance, 24 Hour News 8 has decided to alter the officer's voice in any video that appears on air or on woodtv.com.
In response to authorities' concerns, 24 Hour News 8 has removed all unedited versions of the video from woodtv.com and will repost the video once the officer's voice has been altered.
The sting that landed Merfeld behind bars was a joint operation by the Muskegon Police Department, Muskegon County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police. The sheriff's department has also said it is upset the prosecutor's office released the video at all.
In talking to 24 Hour News 8, Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson said officers' safety is of the utmost importance to his office.
Merfeld has already pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder in a deal that could send her to prison for a minimum of six years.
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