Clarification: The still above shows Stolarik, the photographer who was arrested, but the video from which it was taken was recorded during another incident. We apologize for the misleading statement in the original version of this article.
Law enforcement and photographers have rarely seen eye-to-eye, and a good number of police officers are often unaware of the laws in place to protect photographers. On August 5, 2012, Robert Stolarik, a freelance photographer for the NYTimes, was arrested by police officer Michael Ackermann while out on assignment in the Bronx. He was photographing the arrest of a teenage girl when he was apprehended by several officers. He was subsequently arrested for “violently disobeying arrest”, disregarding “numerous lawful orders”, and using a flash in the officer’s face. Evidence from the incident now shows that those claims are untrue, and the officer in question has been found guilty of falsifying charges.
The counts Ackermann faces are an excellent development, and should serve as a boon for photographers working in close proximity to police officers. Ackermann faces up to seven years for the unlawful arrest of Stolarik, and if he is convicted, he could lose his job. His claims were largely unsubstantiated, most notably by other officers who said that there was no flash.
Given previous conduct by officers against photographers, it’s understandable that some would be uneasy about an assignment where the police are a major player. The threat of having your equipment or person harmed is substantial, but the case with Ackermann should serve as an example.
Remember: if you’re in a public place, the law’s on your side.
Via Imaging Resource
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