A Death in St. Augustine Documentary Response Essay

Excerpt from Response Essay :

Documentary Response: “A Death in St. Augustine”

The nationwide and then global calls for racial justice erupted following the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by Minneapolis police officers underscore the public’s overwhelmingly negative reaction when law enforcement authorities, long held in high esteem and respect, are suspected of committing violent crimes themselves. Although

The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the PBS documentary video,” A Death in St. Augustine” to identify and describe the major issue addressed by this documentary and the primary individuals and groups that were involved. In addition, a description of the several biases identified in the documentary, what was liked and disliked about it and what was learned from watching it are followed by a discussion concerning issues in the film that were unconvincing and anomalous. Finally, a discussion concerning whether the documentary changed this writer’s mind about any aspect of the subject addressed and if this documentary would be recommended to others is followed by a summary of the research and key findings concerning the documentary, “A Death in St. Augustine” in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Identify and describe in detail the major issue addressed by the documentary

The major issue that is addressed by the documentary concerns the special treatment afforded to members of the law enforcement community by their peers when they become involved in the criminal justice system following the death of Michelle O’Connell on September 2, 2010. Although O’Connell was a single mother, her family emphasized that she loved her daughter, Alexis, and even worked up to three jobs to support her. The point is made repeatedly by family members and friends that O’Connell was “planning for her future not her end” despite her death being ruled a suicide by the medical examiner. For instance, her employer, Teresa Woodward, stated outright that, “Michelle’s life was not spiraling down. She was happy with the changes she was making.”

One of the most important changes O’Connell was trying to make in her life was seeking an end to her stormy relationship with Deputy Banks, but there are numerous signs that she was contemplating suicide as evinced by a stream of cryptic messages that indicated she was planning on taking her own life (i.e., the several texts to her sister stating, in part, “Promise me one thing. Lexi will be happy and always have a good life [and] that no matter what, Lexi will always be safe and loved.” Conversely, there were also significant indications that O’Connell was murdered by her physically abusive and controlling boyfriend, Deputy Banks.

Identify the primary individuals/groups involved in the documentary

The two primary individuals involved in the documentary were Michelle O’Connell, the deceased, a full-time daycare worker who had recently been promoted and Sheriff Deputy Jeremy Banks, the main suspect in her death. The key group that was involved in the documentary was Deputy Banks’ employer, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in St. Augustine, Florida.

Identify the biases on the part of the filmmaker that you were able to identify in the documentary

Like other Frontline presentations, this…

[…… parts of this paper are missing, click here to view or download the entire document ]

…the time if expended shell casings could cause this type of injury.

Did the film change your mind about any aspect of the subject that it presents? What information, argument or persuasive technique caused you to change your mind?

While the producers did provide some evidence that indicated O’Connell took her own life, the multiple claims that Deputy Banks was responsible for her death were piled on to the point where members of the audience likely concluded he was the murderer without looking any further and I was nearly, but not completely, drawn into this perspective myself.

If the filmmakers were to ask how the film could be improved, what would you tell them?

The producers should recruited Deputy Banks to comment on the case, just as they did with the other stakeholders in this case, rather than just use his prerecorded telephone calls and testimony.

If someone asked you whether you would recommend this film, how would you respond?

If people were interested in learning more about law enforcement’s unwritten but powerful code of silence, I would recommend this documentary; however, if they were just looking for some solid entertainment, I would recommend an alternative.


The untimely death of Michelle O’Connell on September 2, 2010 that resulted in an investigation by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in St. Augustine, Florida officially determined that she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The research showed that there was abundant circumstantial evidence that implicated O’Connell’s boyfriend, Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Banks, but this evidence was disregarded throughout the investigation. The several…

Cite This Response Essay:

"A Death In St Augustine Documentary" (2020, August 25) Retrieved January 24, 2021, from

"A Death In St Augustine Documentary" 25 August 2020. Web.24 January. 2021. <

"A Death In St Augustine Documentary", 25 August 2020, Accessed.24 January. 2021,