ABC-7 reporter and photographer handcuffed, detained while covering I-10 wreck
by Sito Negron
Posted on April 20, 2009
An ABC-7 reporter and photographer covering the wreck of an 18-wheeler on I-10 west this afternoon were handcuffed and detained, then released without being arrested.
Video courtesy of ABC-7
Police did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment on why reporter Darren Hunt and photojournalist Ric Dupont were put in handcuffs, placed in back a squad car and taken to the West Side Command Center.
Police spokesman Javier Sambrano did tell ABC-7 that "It's unfortunate that any time the member of the public or the news media feels that they've been treated unfairly by any member of our department, and so, that's a very serious type of allegation - something that we have to ensure that we investigate completely, and that's what we're doing here and conducting an investigation."
The scene was partially caught on video. The first moments are not recorded in the video, which begins with the officer, identified as Sgt. Ramirez, tells Hunt to leave the scene, a command he repeats seven times during the incident. Hunt asks if he can to talk to one more person. "Negative," barks the officer, who turns to Dupont with a comment something along the lines of, "press that trigger, boy." Hunt says, "He can shoot if he wants to" and mutters "Geez" as he walks toward the truck. The officer sprints toward Hunt and pushes him against the truck. Things go downhill from there.
At the end of the two-minute clip, the officer appears to wrestle Dupont's camera to the ground. In a "Blair Witch" moment, the camera continues shooting while on its side, catching the sound of someone being pushed against the chain-link fence separating the two directions of the highway can be heard. The officer yells, "Sit down and shut up!" As the video ends, someone can be heard saying, "You're hurting my arm." [video]
Brenda de Anda, the station's news director, said she was still reviewing the matter and could not comment in detail.
She did say that no charges were pressed against the two -- who were held for "less than an hour" -- and that a sergeant who called the station to explain what was happening told her that they were interfering with the police. She expressed doubt about that scenario.
"They're veterans," she said of the news crew. "They know the parameters."
She also noted that the wreck was on Interstate-10 West, while Hunt and the photographer were on Interstate-10 East, the other side of the freeway.
De Anda said she did not recall a similar incident occurring.
"The media and police, we have a great relationship. We work together every day and we cover crashes every day, so this is very unusual," she said.
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