The Associated Press
A weekly newspaper reporter says he was intimidated and threatened when he stopped to take photos of police officers and a sheriff’s sergeant questioning a man on a Seattle street.
It was a relatively minor incident last week but totally unnecessary, said Dominic Holden, who is the news editor at The Stranger. He filed complaints with police and the King County Sheriff’s Office, KOMO-TV reported. “This is the type of comparatively low-level interaction that I believe ultimately deteriorates trust in our law enforcement,” Holden said.
Taking photos of police activity on public property is legal.
“As long as they are not directly interfering with an investigation, they have a right to stand there and videotape or take photos,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West.
Sheriff John Urquhart put Sgt. Casey Saulet on leave following the incident. Seattle police referred the complaint against Officer John Marion to the Office of Professional Accountability. Acting Chief Jim Pugel said the allegation does not match what the department teaches and he assured Holden they would get to the truth.
Holden said he was just doing his job when he stopped to take pictures of officers as they questioned a man in the International District but that Saulet didn’t want him there.
“Sgt. Saulet then said that I needed to leave the entire block or I would be arrested,” Holden said.
Other people were even closer to the officers, who by then had released the man they were questioning, Holden said, but Saulet still ordered him to cross the street.
After Holden crossed the street he asked for the commanding officer’s name and Marion approached.
“At that point the officer asked where I worked, and when I told him he threatened to come bother me at The Stranger. And this is a needless escalation,” Holden said.
Holden hopes his complaints are taken seriously. “The question is whether their good intentions for following up actually result in any sort of discipline for the officers,” he said.