Police arrest reporter for photographing dead body

Petoskey News-Review

Michigan State Police charged Damien Leist of the Charlevoix County News with “photographing [a] dead body in a grave,” Brandon Hubbard reports for the Petoskey (Mich.) News-Review. Leist was reporting from the scene of a plane crash and made this video:

The dispute appears to center on whether Leist had police permission to photograph the site. Police say there were still human remains on the scene and they didn't allow photographs.

Leist says he woke up “late to the game” the morning of the plane crash and called fellow Charlevoix County News reporter Jeff Bossory to the crash site.

Earlier in the morning, several media outlets, including the News-Review, had reporters at the crash site, where deputies escorted — by snowmobile — members of the media to a location where photographs and video were taken at distance.

“I get up there at about 11 o’clock and the party is over,” said Leist, who posted a $5,000 surety bond for his release.

“So, I ask Chuck Vondra if we can go up and take some pictures and he says: ‘No problem at all.’”
Leist says he then went into town with Bossory to “process” what they had for a story. Then about noon, he said, they returned to the crash site.

“The police let us in and we took pictures,” Leist said.

Leist said the deputies let them walk up a plowed trail to the downed airplane.

Michigan's law dates to the wreck of the laker Edmund Fitzgerald but also covers "covers more general disasters and accidental grave sites such as a mine where “all or a portion of a decedent is located.”

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com 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.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon