DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit Free Press photographer was taken into custody while shooting video of Detroit police making an arrest.
The newspaper says Mandi Wright — a Freep photographer for 15 years — was held for more than six hours Thursday and, at one point, was put in the same interrogation room as the 47-year-old male suspect.
Mandi Wright and Free Press reporter Kathleen Gray were on a video training session Thursday when they suddenly saw officers escorting a suspect to a police car. Wright, who said she was wearing media identification around her neck, pulled out her iPhone, apparently raising the ire of officers.
“I’m a journalist, working journalist,” Wright said.
“OK. I don’t care who you are,” the officer responded, according to the video.
Wright didn’t know he was an officer because nothing on his clothes showed he was with the police. There was a brief struggle, the phone was confiscated and Wright was arrested.
The arresting offer claimed Wright was interfering with the arrest, but no charges have been filed against her.
“Wright was working on a story, on a public sidewalk, and using a Free Press-issued iPhone when she was arrested,” said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langon. “Legally, all citizens — including the media — have an absolute right to photograph any police action while they are in public places.”
The Free Press says Deputy Chief James Tolbert later apologized to editors, agreeing that there’s nothing illegal about people recording video of police in public.
Free Press editor and publisher Paul Anger said the incident seemed to needlessly escalate.
“We understand the difficult job that police officers do, and we understand how tensions can rise,” he said. “Yet some of the police actions all through this incident need scrutiny, not the actions of our photographer.”
Detroit police are now conducting an internal investigation of the incident.
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