New York Times photographer arrested while covering arrest

New York Times | Ben Doernberg | NPPA

Freelance photographer Robert Stolarik was on assignment for The New York Times Saturday, shooting a "brewing street fight" in the Bronx. New York City police officers told him to stop photographing them arresting a teenager, according to the paper's account:

Mr. Stolarik said he identified himself as a journalist for The Times and continued taking pictures. A second officer appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, he said.

Mr. Stolarik said he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, and the officers then took his cameras and dragged him to the ground; he said that he was kicked in the back and that he received scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.

The police told the paper Stolarik hit an officer in the face with his camera and “violently resisted being handcuffed.” Lawyer George Freeman said the Times has been "been working with the Police Department since the Occupy Wall Street protests last fall."

NPPA lawyer Mickey Osterreicher writes in a letter to an NYPD official that Stolarik's "equipment and credentials must be returned immediately." Osterreicher says the most recent incident shows that officers are ignoring the department's order to cooperate with the media.

During a protest in December, an NYPD officer pushed Stolarik down some stairs while he covered an Occupy protest, and this past January another officer blocked his lens while he tried to photograph an arrest at a different Occupy rally. In both cases, Ben Doernberg writes, The Times formally complained to the police. Via Josh Stearns (who's been tweeting about Saturday's incident), Doernberg also links to an account of a 2004 incident in which Stolarik was restrained while covering the Republican National Convention in New York.

In May, Stearns wrote about a letter the United States Department of Justice sent to Baltimore officials advising them: "Recording governmental officers engaged in public duties is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers."

Related: What to Do When Police Tell You to Stop Taking Photos, Video

Previously: Getty photographer injured, journalists detained at NATO protests in Chicago | Baltimore police use loophole to threaten man with arrest for videotaping them | Photojournalist sues cop, Suffolk County, N.Y., over right to videotape police | Press credentials don’t help journalists covering Occupy protests in New York, LA

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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