A DVD purporting to show real footage of violent crimes including shootings, carjackings and sexual assault has the Internet buzzing, police investigating and critics outraged at reality filmmaking gone wild.
Producer Ousala Aleem, 25, says he has already sold more than 10,000 copies of "Criminals Gone Wild," which reportedly contains raw and uncut footage of robberies, muggings, drive-by shootings and assaults.
Aleem, of Brooklyn, N.Y., called the budget for the movie filmed in New York, Connecticut and Alabama "real small," but said he has already made more $300,000 since it went on sale last month.
Aleem told ABC News the footage is "100 percent real," adding "why would I fake it? Just look at the prison population. There are millions of people of committing crimes and they're not hard to find."
The filmmaker said the DVD started out as a documentary in which he would interview criminals about life on the streets, but sometimes in the middle of an interview a crime would take place.
"I never went out and advertised and told people to commit crimes so I could film them, or offer to pay people to commit crimes," he said. "As word got out some people would tell me they had footage and give it to me."
Police in New York City are looking into whether the footage is indeed real.
"We have to prove the veracity of these crimes first before we can do anything," said an NYPD spokesman. "The DVD is on our radar screen and we're looking into it. Until we've investigated we can't tell who, if anyone, is criminally responsible."
Criminal defense lawyers, however, say it is generally not criminal to record a crime and do nothing to stop it.
"No person has a duty to report a crime happening. … You can watch a person being pushed into a lake and drowning and you don't have to go in after them," said Ryan Blanch, a criminal defense attorney in New York with the Blanch Law Firm PC.
If, however, you induced a person to commit a crime — even just to videotape it — that is a crime, he added. "Even if you weren't involved in the crime itself, you could be considered a co-conspirator and be charged as if you yourself were involved," he said.
The trailer for the tape shows a lot of men with guns talking about alleged crimes, interspersed with video, some of which has a YouTube imprint. Some of the scenes seem real enough and others have a staged feel to them.
"Yeah I killed somebody. … I've killed mad [many] people," said one alleged criminal wearing large sunglasses in the DVD.
Another alleged perpetrator wearing a blue bandana that obscured most of his face tells the camera, "I never did no motherf-- time. … Which actually means I'm good at what I f-- do."
A man who claims to be in the film told a New York television station that he was an actor and that the movie was a hoax. But the footage appears real enough that Amazon.com stopped selling the DVD and YouTube pulled the trailer from its site.
"When it comes to DVD titles if we've gotten complaints, we'll take a look and then make a decision about whether to keep it on the site... It was offered through a third party distributor and only for a short period of time before we pulled it," said Patty Smith, spokesperson for Amazon.com.
Smith said it was the retailer's policy not disclose sale figures.
Aleem said he never encouraged anyone to commit a crime, but simply documented them when they occurred — not unlike the mainstream media.