Woman throws rock, sics dogs on TV crew


Melissa Lawrence was arrested and charged with assault by Providence, R.I., police after she threw a rock at WLNE-TV cameraman Marc Jackson and set her dogs upon reporter Abbey Niezgoda.

The video is astonishing.

Lawrence “will be arraigned on two counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon in Providence District Court on Wednesday afternoon,” the station reports.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • Sam

    Too bad more reporters (and news editors) don’t have the intelligence and good sense and respect for others that you have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/devin.greaney Devin Greaney

    could not agree more!!!

  • rosilandjordan

    I reported in Boston for four years in the late 90′s, and for four years before that in Milwaukee and Tucson. I’ve been doing this for 21 years, so I think I know what I’m talking about here.

    Rule number one for TV reporters: The story is NOT about you. Turn the camera off until you have consent to conduct an on-camera interview. (In fact, Mr. or Ms. Photog, stay in the car.) People have every right to decide whether to let you into their lives and to share the details with your audience. You are not doing them a favor by allowing them to be on TV. They’re doing you a favor by sharing their lives with you. Don’t forget that.

    Rule number two: Show some compassion. What if this were your family? If you’ve never dealt with anyone who’s suffered a trauma, spend some time talking with a crisis counselor first. Learn how people grieve, and what they are capable of doing or not doing at any given moment.

    The corollary: You cannot rush your time with a person who has just suffered a loss and has agreed to talk with you. Tell your desk, your producer, and everyone else in the newsroom to back off. You’ll file when you have the story, not a second before (And this links to number one: These people didn’t ask to be the lead story in your newscast, and they’re not exactly happy about it, so stack your show accordingly.)

    Rule number three: NO means NO. You don’t know how many other reporters may have swooped in, called, or emailed before you. If they’re emphatic about it, leave your card, say you are very sorry for their loss, and leave. Get in the car and drive away. People remember those who respect their wishes. They will say thank you in their own way, in their own time. It might be an interview, or it might be a note or email.

    And for all you news managers out there, badgering reporters to bring in that interview, no matter what: YOU go out there and knock on the door. Show us how it’s done. Chances are you’ll come back with nothing — because asking for an interview in this situation is perhaps the hardest assignment for field crews, and it takes an incredible amount of humanity to do it.

    By the way: If you do get the interview, make sure you tell a fair and accurate story, one in which the viewers wish they’d known the victim and the family feels you treated the victim with respect. You have your off-hours to be a schmuck.

    Now, if you can’t do the above, and get your newsroom to back you up, you shouldn’t be a reporter. You’re the wrong kind of person for the job.

  • JTFloore

    forgive my ignorance, but please enlighten me. exactly what are “anti-punk reporter yappers”?

  • RonCubed

    What would happen if things were slightly reversed? A white woman orders her dogs to attack a black reporter yelling “stupid black girl”. Wouldn’t the charges include a hate crime along with assault?

  • BrotherMatthias

    By the way, to all the “anti-punk reporter” yappers, most of us have interviewed victims of violence and people who have lost loved ones to murder and accidents.

    Most people want to talk. They want to share their side of the story, or let the community know about their loved one. The reporter probably expected civility.

  • BrotherMatthias

    The dog attack was evil and sick. The dogs need to be put down and the mother needs to be arrested. I am sorry her daughter was injured (the daughter is not dead, as some seem to believe), but the law applies to all, even grieving mothers.

  • JTFloore

    the “media” — and particularly tv — need to realize that there are times when a comment in a situation like this would be both predictable and would do absolutely nothing to “advance the story.” hence, why bother traumatized people? at the very least, the media should periodically show some sensitivity and wait a day or two to seek comment. of course, the journalistic mindset is not to be “beat” on the story. sigh, so what? some scoop.

  • pkon

    The first time I went to interview a sibling of a murder victim, the woman tried to put me off but I persisted. I tried to persuade her to talk to me. We seemed to be chatting civilly, but all of a sudden, she melted down into such hysterical grief that I had to ask a neighbor for help. The neighbor brought her inside and I left. I talked the incident through with several mental health professionals I knew. They all said that extreme emotions are predictable in situations like this, it’s essentially a form of PTSD. I never again asked twice for a comment from anyone that close to a severe trauma.

    What troubles me about the video is that the reporter’s initial actions are quite clearly edited out of the visual narrative. I wouldn’t judge anyone until I saw the unredacted footage.

  • steve849

    What the hell is the reporter doing harassing a grieving mother?

  • itsmeinks

    Loss and grief is one thing being pure mean is another. The actions of the mother against the reporter is not called for. Having her dogs attack her is evil.

  • marc

    They say the worst pain anyone can feel is being a parent and having your kid die before you do.

    She had nothing to lose.

  • Guest

    If that was Florida, that ape would have been Trayvoned.

  • Guest

    A Nigger, enough said.

  • bburrito

    Completely agree with you actually. But all the woman had to do was go inside or just decline to talk to the reporter. Instead…. she gets to sit in jail for awhile and her wounded daughter loses her mother because of her mother’s own actions. This incident is teh fault of the mother, not the journalist. Its goulish, yes, but the journalist was just doing her job. On a public street mind you. Just like it is legal to take video of you changing in your bedroom if its visible from a public street, it is legal to ask questions of literally anybody while standing in a public street. Welcome to the 1st Ammendment in the Bill of Rights.

  • Cunseth

    My wife said it best when she saw this video: it just doesn’t belong on the internet. Neither of the parties is cast in a positive light. Asinine reporting. Asinine response.

  • Benjamin Patton

    The reporters have a constitution right to interview and record the woman on public property. If you’re not familiar with the rules, it’s why celebrities have nearly no privacy in public. The woman can decline to be interviewed or if she felt she was being harassed, she could have called the police to report them.

    Throwing rocks is illegal wherever you are, regardless if you feel the cameraman and reporter are fit some random definition of the word “mean.”

    Thankfully nobody was seriously injured in this incident, or the charges/penalties would have been harsher.

  • Guest

    A freedom of speech issue, we live in a country where reporters are allowed to interview people on public property. If the women didn’t want to talk to them she shouldn’t have talked to them. If she felt they were actively harassing her the woman should have called the police. Whether you think the reporters are mean is irrelevant, assault such as rock throwing is illegal everywhere in this country.

  • Icarus8

    It’s obviously not legal to sic your dogs on a reporter standing on public property, but good for this woman, nonetheless. If these reporters (or, more accurately, the TV station) had any respect for people, they would call first, or at least send one person with no camera or mic to request an interview. What kind of uncivil a-holes ambush a woman who is presumably a victim, not some predator or drug dealer? Does she not have any right to privacy because she is poor and her front door abuts public property? This is why the media are often loathed (by me), despite their overall importance.

  • Lindsey

    I find it interesting that the news station did not identify the breed of dog in this particular report. Maybe they did in later reports or maybe they hadn’t confirmed the breed. They look like pit bulls. The documentary “Beyond the Myth,” talks about the fact that when pit bulls are involved in dog attacks, the breed is mentioned a high percentage of the time. When a dog attack involves a different breed of dog, it is not mentioned anywhere near as often.
    This is obviously an aside, but still interesting to me from a journalism perspective.

  • jimh19

    Bravo for the mother! The woman is under enough stress because of her dayghter’s shooting, then the media adds insult to injury asking her personal questions.

    I just love it when some punk news-person calls the family of a murder/fatal accident victim asking for comment.

    Serves them right.

  • penucheBro420

    Good for her. These journalists are nothing but vultures. Maybe she doesn’t want to talk to you about her daughter getting shot.