On Wednesday, I wrote about a Los Angeles Times reporter, Alene Tchekmedyian, who was believed to be under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after she wrote a story about the department’s efforts to cover up an incident in which a deputy kneeled on a handcuffed inmate’s head. Tchekmedyian’s story included a video of the incident, and that’s mostly what had the department upset.
After a threatening letter from the Times’ lawyers and general outrage from media observers and supporters, the sheriff’s department said Wednesday that Tchekmedyian is not being investigated.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva put out a statement that said, “We have no interest in pursuing, nor are we pursuing, criminal charges against any reporters. We will conduct a thorough investigation regarding the unlawful disclosure of evidence and documentation in an active criminal case. The multiple active investigations stemming from this incident will be shared and monitored by an outside law enforcement entity.”
Actually, late Tuesday, the department put out a tweet that said, “Resulting from the incredible frenzy of misinformation being circulated, I must clarify at no time today did I state an LA Times reporter was a suspect in a criminal investigation. We have no interest in pursuing, nor are we pursuing, criminal charges against any reporters.”
Misinformation?! Villanueva had a poster board with Tchekmedyian’s photo on it during a press conference on Tuesday and when asked if Tchekmedyian was under investigation, Villanueva said, “The act is under investigation. All parties to the act are subject to investigation.”
Even in their Tuesday night Twitter thread, the department seemed to have a beef with the Times, tweeting, “What should be of interest is the fact the LA Times refuses to acknowledge their reporting, and the account of a disgruntled employee, were thoroughly debunked during today’s press conference.”
This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.