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Journalist arrested covering house fire

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Dec. 14, 2007  ·   In Arkansas, reporter and photographer Bill Lawson faces a criminal misdemeanor charge following his arrest…

Dec. 14, 2007  ·   In Arkansas, reporter and photographer Bill Lawson faces a criminal misdemeanor charge following his arrest Dec. 10 at the scene of a residential fire.
On Thursday, Lawson filed a formal complaint against the state trooper who he said unlawfully detained him in handcuffs for roughly 30 minutes after he attempted to capture firefighters battling a chimney fire in Maumelle, Ark.

“I didn’t think the trooper in Maumelle had seen the press credential on my windshield and I approached him . . . to let him know who I was and why I was there,” Lawson explained in a published first-person account of the incident. “That’s when he said he was going to arrest me for approaching him. He told me that he saw the press sign on my windshield and the ID around my neck but that it didn’t mean anything to him.”

Lawson, a reporter and photographer for Stephens Media Group, said that upon his release, state trooper Tom Weindruch issued him a citation for obstructing governmental operations.

The incident is the subject of an internal investigation, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler told reporters on Wednesday.

Kristine Baker, an attorney with Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow who is representing Lawson, said the state trooper’s report on the arrest was turned over to Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley Wednesday afternoon and has not been made public.

Jegley said Thursday his office was still reviewing matter and had not determined whether or not a misdemeanor charge would be pursued.

Jennifer Koons


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